Oldest stadium loses its sheen Spotlight

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Problems galore: Budding athletes jogging on the track at the Brahmananda Reddy Stadium in Guntur on Monday. —
Problems galore: Budding athletes jogging on the track at the Brahmananda Reddy Stadium in Guntur on Monday. —

P. Samuel Jonathan

It remains a mute witness to years of neglect by the authorities concerned

It lacks good accommodation facilities

SAAP promises to sanction funds for repairs

GUNTUR: Coats of paint peel off the roof, under which some of the greatest sportspersons exhibited their skill, cracks infiltrate walls that witnessed many memorable sporting achievements and dust gathers on the track on which many records were rewritten.

The Brahamananda Reddy Stadium, one of the oldest stadiums in the State, continues to remain a mute testimony to years of neglect by the sports establishment and the general disinclination towards sports by the public, local bodies and State Government.

For the many budding athletes thronging the stadium from far off places, the lack of sporting infrastructure remains the biggest bottleneck in the pursuit of their dreams.

The stadium was constructed in 1965 on a spacious site of 26.40 acres. It hosted the first class Ranji cricket matches until 1983 and became part of the folklore when it hosted a benefit match for the flood-hit victims between Kapil X1 and Tollywood stars in 1992. It was also a memorable ground for P.T. Usha as she staged a comeback in the National Athletics Championship in 1989 breaking a lean patch after winning gold in the Asian Games in 1984.

Such has been the state of affairs, that for the last decade or so, no national athletic championship had been organised and only a few State meets were held. The lean period was broken in 2007, when the District Athletics Association conducted the Inter-Zonal Athletics Championships on the premises of Acharya Nagarjuna University also.

Biggest drawback

“The biggest drawback is the lack of good accommodation facilities in the stadium. An annexure to house at least 500 sportspersons should be built,” District Athletic Association secretary G. Seshaiah says.

Scores of budding athletes continue to practise on the dusty track without proper equipment, hockey players slug out on an open space outside the stadium and gymnasts struggle in a make-shift room. The tennis court replete with a gallery filled with iron scrap. The Indoor stadium for shuttle badminton is the lone exception, thanks to the initiative by the then collector K. Ramakrishna Rao.

With just nine qualified coaches at hand, the district sports authority has been unable to tap the talented youngsters in rural areas. Apart from maintenance problems, the stadium does not have an adequate underground drainage system making it vulnerable to inundation at times of heavy rain.

For the District Sports Authority keen on restoring the past glory of the stadium, paucity of funds remains the biggest challenge. The Sports Authority of Andhra Pradesh has promised to sanction Rs.8 lakhs for carrying out repairs to the stadium and the athletic track.

The SAAP has also decided to set up a Regional Sports Hostel for budding athletes in Gymnastics, Athletics and Swimming (below eight years).

Talent hunt

A proposal to set up a swimming pool at a cost of Rs.70 lakhs had been sent to the SAAP. “We are also tapping the rural talent by launching a talent hunt in the district which will continue till November 25,” says District Sports Development Officer P. Rama Krishna.

The DSDO is also planning to rope in leading business houses to sponsor sportspersons and events.

The DSDO says that works relating to repair of stadium and the athletic track will begin in December.

An inner underground drainage system is also being planned, he adds.



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