Cricket may reign over most neighbourhoods in Bangalore, but among the children in Mahalakshmi Layout, roller skating puts up stiff competition. Until a decade ago, skating enthusiasts in the area would have to travel to the Dr. Ambedkar Stadium in Basaveshwaranagar in order to squeeze in a practice session. However, as a result of the efforts of the City Skaters Club, founded by Balaji Babu and his wife, Sudha, the locality has its own skating rink built by the BBMP at the Dr. Rajkumar Grounds near Nandini Theatre.
City Skaters has an impressive record of 40 State championship medals, besides several national meet medals. Two of its wards, Dhanush and Vikram, have participated in international championships, including the Asian championship. Dhanush, who is Babu and Sudha’s son, is ranked Asia No. 7 in the junior category while his sister, Mouna, is national individual champion.
Now in the tenth year of its existence, City Skaters looks forward to winning more laurels. “We certainly can do much better if we have a standard rink of 200 metres length. The present one is around 137 m, and there is no space to extend it,” says Sudha.
Plans for a bigger rink
The club is looking for a site to build a competition-class rink. “In places like Vishakhapatnam, they have provided an excellent rink by the side of the road along the beach. I wish we could have something like that here; it would serve us better for training and also we can hold national competitions with facilities like that,” says Sudha.
A few years ago, some residents disputed Babu’s credentials as an instructor and alleged, among other things, that the couple monopolised the rink and kept it under lock and key.
A media report on the matter caused a flurry, but the couple denies the allegations and maintains that they keep the keys to the rink in order prevent its misuse by anti-social elements.
City Skaters charges around Rs. 200 a month for training. “We want to attract more kids to the sport and make it accessible to everyone,” say Babu and Sudha.
For details on City Skaters Club, call 9844378787.