Bhopal: Thanks to a
20-time increase in the sports budget, central location, astro-turf
grounds and new infrastructure, the Madhya Pradesh capital is fast
emerging as a host for national sporting activities and
international events as well.
The City of Lakes, as it is popularly called, has already hosted
over a dozen national sports meets in the last one year and its
platter is full in the near future too.
Once known as the nursery of hockey as it gave many hockey players
to the national kitty, Bhopal is among the eight cities where the
World Series Hockey is to be played this December.
Earlier this year, the city hosted a senior national hockey
championship which was held after a four-year gap. The event was
considered a success as stadia were full with spectators in almost
A senior National Woman Boxing Championship was also held here
Moreover, the city has of late been seeing much activity on the
water sports front as well with kayaking, canoeing, rafting and
In December last year, a National Canoeing and Kayaking
Championship was held at Lower Lake, followed by a national
dressage and swimming championship in January and August this year
"All these events are happening because of the political will and
the international facilities we are offering to sportspersons,"
Madhya Pradesh sports director Shailendra Shrivastava told IANS.
The city has stadia like Aishbagh and multi-utility TT Nagar
Stadium where events like hockey, athletics, football and boxing
Currently, a national women's cricket tournament is going on in
the capital city while November will see the country's best woman
players showing their skills in basketball, swimming and
And according to officials, if everything goes well, Bhopal will
also host the National Polo Competition and National Equestrian
Championship in Jumping.
As announced by Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan after Team
India won the cricket World Cup, an international cricket stadium
is also coming up here.
"We now have good grounds like Aishbagh and TT Nagar Stadium.
These are well equipped with infrastructure to hold such events;
so we are able to host most of the events successfully," said
Besides hosting national sports events, the state is also running
16 sports academies. In these academies, around 500 sportsmen are
being trained by the likes of wrestler Sushil Kumar, shuttler
Pullela Gopichand and cricketer Madan Lal.
And the results are showing.
The state has started faring better in most of the sports. While
it bagged 63 medals in the 33rd National Games, the tally
increased to 103 medals in the 34th National Games held in
Jharkhand earlier this year.
"For the last two financial years, the chief minister has
increased the sports budget from Rs.4 crore to Rs.80 crore. So now
we are able to hold such national events frequently," Sports and
Youth Welfare Minister Tukoji Rao Pawar told IANS.
However, sportsmen are not completely satisfied.
"At the end of the day, what matters is how many locals get
attracted towards a game. It's not just about spending money; the
focus should be on how local players benefit from such events,"
Aslam Sher Khan, a former hockey Olympian, told IANS.
"Only in India does it happen that we host a lot of sports events,
but do not get any standing anywhere. If we want to become a
sporting nation, then we should involve more local talent," Khan
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