Staff Reporter

BERHAMPUR: Like plants, sport can never prosper if its roots are not watered. At grass-root level, promotion of sport suffers from a drastic funds crunch in Orissa.

Ganjam district-level women’s sport meet was inaugurated in the Berhampur stadium on Saturday. The budget of this tournament and the way budding sportswomen were selected for this tournament pointed to the need for funds for sports in the State. It may be noted that Ganjam happens to be the home district of chief minister Naveen Patnaik.

Only five sportswomen were selected from each of the 22 blocks of the district to take part in the event. But there were seven events which included multidisciplinary athletics. This shows rural talent had been ignored because every block had not been representated in every event. Funds crunch was again the reason . The total budget for this tournament was only Rs. 14,000. Out of it Rs. 4,000 had to be utilised for uniform and other expenditure of the team selected to take part in state-level meet. The transportation and daily allowance of 110 sportswomen and their coaches was limited to Rs. 7,000. Refreshments were to be arranged for Rs. 1,000 and the prizes and field expenses had to be arranged with a paltry Rs. 2,000.

Badminton players were asked to bring shuttlecocks. Organisers had to arrange the shuttlecocks through the benevolence of a sports lover for the girls team . The situation was even more pathetic during selections at block level. Each block was provided only Rs. 500 for meets to select talent for the district-level event. “At block level we used to finish the selection meet by 1 p.m. because we could afford only biscuits for the budding athletes,” said a senior coach. The organisers also faced a lot of difficulty to demarcate the 400-metre track and other courts as they were not in a position to afford the required amount of lime needed for the purpose. A municipal official came to their rescue and provided lime that is used to disinfect areas, at a subsidised rate.