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Bhopal makes mark on national sports map

Monday October 31, 2011 05:42:54 PM, Shahnawaz Akhtar, IANS

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 every match.

A senior National Woman Boxing Championship was also held here recently.

Moreover, the city has of late been seeing much activity on the water sports front as well with kayaking, canoeing, rafting and water skiing.

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 respectively.

"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 take place.

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 gymnastics.

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 Shrivastava.

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 said.

(Shahnawaz Akhtar can be contacted at





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