Guest column: From gold-standard sports infrastructure to Olympic gold for India

How a lack of sports facilities in the country discourages youth from taking up sports.

MUMBAI: Sports has had a diverse, rich and colourful history in India. From the gold mine of talent unearthed from the farthest corners of the country to shining torches of tomorrow in competitive world events, India has witnessed exemplary and legendary sportsmanship.

Notwithstanding the potential sports prowess the country possesses, India still has a long way to go to be becoming a world power in sports. Each Olympics, we hope for India to come back shining with honours.

Then what exactly is stopping a country with one of the largest youth population and a promising generation of ace sportspeople. The pros and cons of the sporting ecosystem can be a long debate, but a key element to be discussed is a good and robust infrastructure. The sporting infrastructure forms the backbone of sports legacy in any nation. A brilliant case study in contributing to the sporting infrastructure of India among a few legacy names is also the DY Patil Stadium.

A good sports infrastructure not only encourages international mega sporting events to look at a country as an exciting host destination, but at the grassroots it is vital to expand and develop a culture of sports. Athletes need to have access to high performance, world-class facilities which will enable them to train based on global standards. A weak infrastructure is a hard-hitting obstacle in the journey of an athlete’s training and also discourages young people in the country from taking sports seriously.

There is a need to bridge this gap, raise the bar and develop a winning environment for sports. When it comes to infrastructure, there are certain elements that are cornerstones in gauging the excellence of a facility or centre

International standards

The standards of every equipment, amenity, and any allied element in infrastructure needs to meet standards of global, mega sporting events. The quality, area size and type of materials all make a massive difference in increasing preparedness of a sportsperson and equipping them to play at a mega level.

For example for football, the FIFA standard ground at DY Patil is to ensure preparedness at an international level for an aspiring footballer. Athletes also have access to a premium facility gymnasium and the TMGA DY Patil Sports Centre, which adds an edge to global sports training.

The challenges and opportunities provided by the area will enhance the game of the sportsperson.

Ease of operations

It is necessary to understand and innovate to enhance a player’s game. For example, outfields in India are typically made of red soil, when it rains the outfield tends to become sluggish and heavy. To minimise the interruption because of rain, the DY Patil Stadium’s outfield is sand based. A completely concealed underground drainage system helps quickly remove water. Again, minimum interruptions in games or training are valuable, since each minute gone on the clock in sports is a massive loss.

Customised to the sport

Every sport has its ideal playing field and every sport an athlete trains for requires the ideal field from the training stage. For tennis, hard courts of uniform material and layers which offer greater constituency of bounce is preferred.  Attention to these details play an integral role, since every sportsperson gets his well-deserved share of the pie and a level playing field increases the confidence in a player’s game.

Recovery areas

It is imperative that every sportsperson gets proper access to recovery and rehab facilities. Sports is a strenuous activity and a well-equipped facility includes special recovery areas, ice baths which help players recoup and also prevent long run injuries whenever possible.

It is not an understatement to say if India becomes home to world-class sporting infrastructure, there is no stopping the nation from realising its immense potential in the global sports arena. Among pioneering infrastructure names in building India’s sports legacy, when India becomes home to world-class sporting infrastructure, the DY Patil Stadium is sure to be one of the leading global venues.

(The author is president, DY Patil Sports Academy. may not subscribe to his thoughts.)

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