What do these grand stadia in Chennai have for you?

The SDAT Nungambakkam Tennis Stadium. | File   | Photo Credit: R. Ragu

There is no dearth of government-run mega sporting facilities in Chennai. Naming some of those that have instant recall, even for people beyond the city, it is Nehru Stadium, Nehru Indoor Stadium, Mayor Radhakrishnan Hockey Stadium, Nungambakkam Tennis Stadium and Velachery Aquatics Complex, among others. If you don’t factor in the newly-developed areas, particularly Rajiv Gandhi Salai, there can’t be any major complaints, in terms of their distribution. Of course, if you get up close, areas for improvement may become obvious.

That however lies outside the scope of this article. The question is: Are these state-of-the-art stadiums just a grand stage for sporting extravaganzas and a grooming space for professionals? In addition, do they have something to offer the dilettante, or to put it more precisely, the one who is not yet a professional? And, do they have programmes to benefit those who may not find a particular kind of fitness-related support elsewhere?

Nehru-B, an athletic track cum football ground in Periamet that is part of the umbrella of sporting facilities offered by the Sports Development Authority of Tamil Nadu (SDAT), has a hydro-therapy pool. As L. Sujatha, who is in-charge of the Nehru Indoor Stadium, puts it, the hydro-therapy pool is mainly for persons with disabilities (PWD), particularly those with special needs.

“Access to the pool is free for PwD aged 16 or below. Not many know of this people-friendly provision. We want those children to use the facility,” says Sujatha.

Free hostel stay

And did you know that school and college students with proven skills in any sport can avail free hostel stay on the premises of the Nehru Stadium and Nehru Indoor Stadium? The objective of this arrangement is to ensure that youngsters with a promising sports career ahead of them have quick and daily access to sporting facilities.

“The State Government bears all their boarding-and-lodging and other day-to-day expenses,” says P. Venkatesh, officer in-charge, Nehru Stadium.

“Centre of Excellence” (for children in standard VI to VIII) is for those who have excelled in judo, boxing and tennis. Sports Hostel (for children in standard VIII to XII) is for those good in athletics, boxing and judo. “Sports Hostel of Excellence” is for college students who have done well in athletics, basketball and volleyball. All the afore-mentioned facilities, located at Nehru Stadium, are meant for boys. Nehru Indoor Stadium has similar hostel facilities for girls.

For amateurs too

Indian Squash Academy, which also doubles as the headquarters of the Squash Rackets Federation of India, is the hub for squash coaching that attracts players from across the country. However, in this essentially pro-driven establishment, some space is reserved for amateurs.

“We are also open for casual players to use the facility, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. from Mondays to Saturdays,” says a Tamil Nadu Squash Rackets Association (TNSRA) official.

There is also an opportunity for small children to test the “squash” waters and make up their mind if the sport if for them.

“We have a beginners (Under-11) programme every quarter,” adds the TNSRA official.

Paid space for beginners

“Budding athletes can make use of Nehru-B and Nehru Park grounds,” says P. Venkatesh.

Venkatesh also points out that the Nehru Stadium has dedicated spaces calls “Halls” for various sports — to name a few, Hall of Table Tennis, Hall of Carrom, Hall of Chess, Hall of Judo and Hall of Boxing — where beginners can cut their tooth in a particular sport in a non-intimidating atmosphere. The shooting range is a popular facility at the Stadium, as it is greatly utilised by school students.

Learn to swim

Swimming is one of the much sought-after sports among the general public, with many of them taking it up for fitness.

Swimming pool at Velachery Aquatics Complex. | File

Swimming pool at Velachery Aquatics Complex. | File   | Photo Credit: M. Karunakaran

“The general public can go in for a monthly, quarterly, half-yearly or annual membership. There will be coaches to guide and support members. Instead, they can avail a one-hour swimming package by paying ₹100 -- however, this scheme is open only to those who know swimming,” says G. Premkumar, officer in-charge, SDAT-Velachery Aquatics Complex.

There is also a Learn-to-Swim programme at the Complex.

“It is a 12-day programme, which is conducted twice a month. The next programme begins on December 31,” says Premkumar.

For more details, contact 044 - 22354381.

The day of the amateur driver

A majority of population knows the Madras Motorsports Club (MMSC) by the calendar motor sports events widely reported in the media. However, the Irungattukottai track is more accessible to the motor-sports enthusiast than they may assume.

“We have the “Arrive and Drive Day” concept on designated days, when people can bring their own cars and bikes, pay a token amount at the race track and drive on. Then we have the ‘Pay and Practice' for aspiring drivers and riders. The rate is ₹1500 for bikes and ₹3000 for cars on a given day,” says Vicky Chandhok, vice-president of MMSC.

Now, there is Sri Ramachandra’s Centre for Sports Science where top-class sportspersons have access to state-of-the-art facilities to scientifically study their progress in a sport and also sort their injuries out.

This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor

Printable version | Mar 8, 2021 12:34:26 PM |

Next Story