You may know Basaveshwaranagar as a residential locality with several parks, but it’s also an area that encourages more than just morning walkers out for some fresh air. It is home to a number of sports enthusiasts, whom you will find in large numbers at the Dr. B.R. Ambedkar Stadium, built on what was once Dasarahalli tank.

The 7.2 acres on which the stadium stands, adjacent to Gangamma Thimmaiah choultry in Agrahara Dasarahalli, is laid out neatly with a variety of sports facilities on offer. The basketball court has a compact gallery from which parents can be seen watching their children practise, some of the more competitive ones even going so far as to capture their children’s moves on camera.

Training for slum children

To the left of the stadium’s entrance, a small passage leads to a gallery displaying around 130 original and rare photographs of B.R. Ambedkar, depicting various moments in his life. The gallery is run by the Ambedkar Yuva Sena, a youth club that also trains talented children in slums for free.

“As there is quite a large number of slums in and around here, it is not that difficult to spot the children. It is usually the children who come and approach us, and we even send letters to government schools requesting them to send students who have a zeal for sports,” says Nagaraj, a coach.

Traditional games too

Kho-kho and kabaddi — games you won’t see being played in every sports stadium — are being revived here. Players of both sports darting about are a common sight on Fridays and Saturdays, which is when the games are taught.

There’s a skating rink with children zooming around enthusiastically. “I love skating along with my friends. After school, I rush here to play. Once I am adept at skating, I will skate to school and everywhere I have to go,” says a beaming skater.

At the stadium, hundreds of children are also coached in cricket, badminton and taekwondo. A running track with a space in the centre for athletic activities can be viewed from a large gallery.

But it isn’t just the young who enjoy coming to the stadium; “I get to catch up with a lot of friends here while having my child constructively engaged in a sport,” said one parent. A regular walker at the stadium for the last three years, Rajalakshmi says: “I come from Vijaynagar with my child, and while she gets coached in basketball and skating, I finish my walk. This place is a joy to be in.”

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