Gindun Stadium

  • Asif M D Hajra
  • Publish Date: Aug 12 2018 9:18PM
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  • Updated Date: Aug 12 2018 9:18PM
Gindun Stadium

Fascinated by the heroics of Croatian Goran Ivanosevic in Wimbledon 2001 when he defeated previous year’s runner-up Patrick Rafter in the final match that lasted over 3 hours in a five-setter (6–3, 3–6, 6–3, 2–6, 9–7) to become the lowest-ranked player and the first wildcard entry to win Wimbledon, I would imagine a Wimbledon champion emerging from my land. However, with time, I have realized that I belong to the third world.          

But why do Western countries perform better than many Asian countries in all major sports events? Why do sportspersons from the West dominate all major sports (cricket being an exception)? Why even China, Japan and South Korea etc. are way ahead of India and other Asian countries in the recent times in Olympics, commonwealth games and other global sports events? Why are we not able to produce even a single global hero in the most popular sports including soccer, tennis (Sania Mirza, Paes/Bhupathi being exceptions), table tennis, basketball, athletics, Formula 1, Boxing, Golf etc.?

Zoom in to my state. Not to talk of global recognition, it is even hard to imagine having representation at the national level. Except for the likes of Abdul Majeed Kakroo, Parvez Rasool, Chain Singh, Mehraj-Ud-din Wadoo, Ishfaq Ahmad etc., our athletes are minnows at all levels.     

In search for the reasons behind this poor state of affairs, I have found many answers to these questions. Primary reason being lack of quality physical infrastructure and secondary is the civic sense – sense of responsibility of all the stakeholders to conserve and maintain the available facilities.  

Good sports infrastructure not only plays a crucial role in achieving excellence in performance, it also attracts the youth to participate in sporting activities. Moreover, in the longer term, it inculcates the culture of sports in the society. And the result – emergence of global sportstars. 

Over the past, albeit not drastic yet good efforts have been made to build sports infrastructure in the state for its youth. Sher-i-Kashmir Indoor Stadium at Wazir Bagh was one of the best sports complexes in India when it was thrown open to public in the late 1980s. The stadium had all required facilities for conducting activities in various sporting disciplines like badminton, table tennis, gymnastics, basketball, weightlifting, powerlifting etc. Much to the bad luck of budding athletes, occupied by CRPF and converted into a security camp, the stadium was closed to public for many years due to militant uprising in 1990. Obviously then, its condition went from bad to worse with the passage of time. Lately, in 2014, the stadium suffered yet another shock of floods which inflicted severe damages to it. Three years on and then recently, authorities have come up with a Rs 17 crore plan for renovation of facilities at the Indoor Stadium.

Given the situation we live in, it would be fair to say that the authorities are doing their bit to bring the things back on track, yet I feel that the other stakeholders have failed to uphold their civic sense. I remember 1994, then a class 12th student, I registered myself for playing badminton in the only indoor courts available in the city. I confess not abiding by the registration rules. I did not even bother to wind the nets after finishing the practice session outside the main indoor complex. It was being uncivilized then, and it has been 24 years since.

Sher-i-Kashmir Gindun Stadium – multi-sports activity centre at Raj Bagh Srinagar, whose foundation stone was laid by then Chief Minister Omar Abdullah on 5th December 2009 on the 104th birth anniversary of Sheikh Abdullah is first of its kind sports facility in the state. Besides a football field, it houses a gymnasium, 3 lawn tennis courts, basketball court and a Wushu training centre. A swimming pool is also provisioned for, which is under construction at this point of time.

Removing his warm Phiran in Chillai Kalan on December 21, 2013 the then Chief Minister inaugurated the first phase of this complex and played a lawn tennis game, tried a few jump shots in the basketball court to share a few encouraging moments with the youth. They say that the idea behind the facilities in Gindun stadium is to provide Kashmiri youth a platform for proving their metal.

However, contrary to the purpose the facility was envisaged to provide, Gindun has neither been developed nor maintained in the manner it deserves to be, nor have the beneficiaries (youth) reciprocated well to the great initiative. 

I visited the ground on 14th July around 9:30 A.M. to witness a friendly football match between State premier division teams JKSPDC-XI and Maharaja FC. The Manager (Gindun stadium) was not in the office till I left (around 11:45 A.M.). 

The football ground is a grass field with uneven surface. The field boundary is not defined as there are no field markings, neither the touchline nor the goal line.  Many pits have developed on the pitch which pose great risk of injury to the players. The technical areas including the dugout, players’ bench, marked zone adjacent to the pitch do not exist at all. 

Take lawn tennis courts. It hurt me the most to see the pathetic condition of the court on the extreme left. Its rubber surface is ruptured along one of the side galleries and inflated at many places along the backline. Given no attention, the courts are bound to get destructed sooner or later. I was told that a few notorious guys prefer to play cricket on the lawn tennis court. It is a shame. What I felt more shameful was to know that among those who play lawn tennis at Gindun, hardly a few pay the due fees. Are we not uncivilized?     

Gymnasium – the lawn and the marble path around the building is decorated with cigarette bits and covers, besides residual substances (may be narcotics). The glasses of the building are broken perhaps by some frenzy youth. I confess that we take adventure in damaging public property. Do we have the civic sense? 

In my childhood it was saddening not to have access to a lawn tennis court. Today, it is even more depressing to witness a lawn tennis court begging for care. With what all I saw at Gindun, I ask myself, “Do we deserve to have Gindun stadium?”

As I write this piece, I had fixed time for conversation with the Manager of the Gindun stadium, but for reasons unknown, he did not respond to my calls. Thus, I pray, ‘God help the wife of blind’!    

 

(The writer can be reached at asifmdhajra@outlook.com