Temporary relief for agitated athletes

13-05-2017
DH

A host of current and former athletes had assembled for a protest against the decision to bar them from using the track from 2-5 pm due to the ongoing Oorja CAPF under-19 football tournament. In response, the Department of Youth Empowerment and Sports (DYES) has directed the organisers of the football tournament to start an hour early, allowing the athletes to start the training at their scheduled time. The football matches will begin at 1:00 pm and finish at 4:00 pm. 

“Today, we were asked to start our practice at 4:30 pm –- 30 minutes past the usual training time –– by the DYES deputy director Basavaraj. We were told that from tomorrow athletes will be allowed to train in their regular timings. The football tournament is concluding on Monday and the organisers require the venue for the closing ceremony. We have agreed to train at the 200 metres track on Monday,” said senior coach V R Beedu. The last minute change in schedule did cause inconvenience to the athletes. “We didn’t have enough time to inform the trainees and they reached the stadium very early. Children come to train directly from school and it is important they finish the practice on time as many stay far from the stadium. This is just a short-term answer to the current problems and we strongly oppose the stadium being used for multi-purpose sporting activities” said Beedu.

DYES director Anupam Agarwal said deciding on a flexible timing was the best way to fix the issue. “We told the organisers to begin the matches at 1:00 pm. Our aim is to develop and promote all kind of sports. No association can claim that they own the facilities of the stadium. We must utilise all resources of the stadium for the development of different types of games,” said Agarwal. Agarwal also justified his earlier decision to bar the athletes from using the track till 5:00 pm. “The football tournament is just a one-week affair and not something that goes on for a long period,” he said.

Meanwhile the Karnataka Olympic Association (KOA) has come out in support of the athletes. “It (Kanteerava) is essentially a stadium meant for athletics only. The Chief Minister Siddaramaiah has also expressed similar sentiments. We will urge the state government to initiate steps to complete the construction of the football stadium so that it is used for football related activities,” KOA president K Govindraj said.

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