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Make it a sporty SUMMER

Summer vacations see an upsurge in sporting activities in the city as sports outlets have a field day.

Photo by Mahesh Harilal

VACATION TIME is here and its time to lock up your books and dust out the bat and ball and have a blast. But if you are the kind that wants the sheen of newness intact, head for the sports stores in the city who are keenly looking forward to their seasonal time for an upsurge in sales. "Our boom time lasts for only 45 days in a year confined to these summer vacations when all the families leave their work behind and look forward to some leisure and time-pass," says Anil Mahajan of Modern Sports Industries . He is also the proprietor of Win All Sports showroom nestled in the bustling Jews Street which is one of the biggest in the country with five floors devoted to sports goods and equipments. V. K. Joseph of Kerala Sports Industries, in M.G. Road, too agrees that in this sluggish market this is the only time to make some bucks. "The rain plays spoilsport and tight exam schedules also deter the kids from coming to buy things. Moreover on the budget list we always occupy the last position." But now since the holidays have begun the shops have something to cheer about. Snatching the benefits of this opportune moment saw the soccer's brightest star I. M. Vijayan launching his sports manufacturing company `Boxer' a few days back.

Badminton, cricket, football, volleyball, table tennis, and so on in the descending order are the current favourite games to indulge in this season. "With the cricket fever reaching its crescendo in the indo-Pak series you will now see kids pestering their parents to buy them bats with MRF emblazoned on them. Also Ganguly's bat with its SS mark is a favourite among the kids," reveals Mr. Mahajan. Among the top in cricket gear are BDM, SG and KG. A complete cricket kit comes with a price tag ranging from Rs. 500 to 8,000.

All the players in the sports goods market are full of praise for the educational institutions that help in sparking the interest in teenagers for sports. Moreover, the yearly tournaments and competitions kindle and keep alive the spirit of the game. As more and more clubs are mushrooming in every nook of the city, there is more demand for new age sports like billiards, pool and also golf. Assistant manager of DD Retreat, Mathew says that the billiards and pool tables have seen packed crowds but there are hardly any takers for the miniature golf course. He informs us that a game like billiards has finally caught the fancy of the Kochiites. "For around 1.5 lakhs we install the whole table and peripherals like the lighting system, scoreboard, the cues and balls." The price is slightly high because everything is sourced form outside. "The most you can do in manufacturing a billiards table in Kerala is assembling it, because the green cover felt and the inner slate which are the two vital components of the billiards table is not got here," says Mr. Joseph. They are mostly ordered from Bangalore.

The most popular sports item is the badminton racket and shuttlecock. Anil Mahajan prides himself as the maker of the `Shalu' brand of shuttlecocks. Another famous brand `Yonex' has introduced plastic shuttles that can last up to 25 or 30 games. It's priced at Rs. 65. `Skylark', `Albatross', and `Yonex' are best buys in the case of racquets. Another game that is becoming a common man's game like cricket is basketball. Colleges have the grounds for it but with high-rise flats invading Kochi's landscape one can see baskets put up in the open spaces outside the buildings and kids getting together to enjoy some quick dunking. For basketball, football and volleyball the best brands are `Cosco', and `Nivia'. Roller-skating too is fast becoming a style statement in the sports arena. `Jonex', the Indian brand in roller skates provides two types of skates, one the four wheels and the other option the single line wheels, which is better, used by trained experts. Skating boards though don't enjoy the same wanted status as the roller skates. With many karate classes training youngsters in this traditional method of self-defence, the `Nancha', an instrument used in karate that has two steel handles joined together by a steel chain, is a quick sell-out during the vacations. It's yours for 100 bucks. National Sporting Company manufactures carom boards, chess boards, Chinese checkers, and table tennis tables. Tennis doesn't seem to have many takers ,if the sales are anything to go by, and squash is next to non-existent with only periodic demands from the Navy as they are the only ones who have a well-maintained squash court.

With the fitness mania now on an upswing and a well-toned body being the basics of looking and feeling good the sale of dumbbells have been in top gear.

There are two types of them, one made of cast iron and the other is steel plated. The steel one weighs more accurately and has a better finish than the cast iron. Also, as Mr. Mahajan points out, the increase in price of iron has led to people forgoing this option. The cast iron costs Rs. 36 and the steel is Rs. 70.

So, there is plenty out there to pick and choose from, for the growing sports community. Go ahead and join the race.


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