While the State government has stepped up efforts to build infrastructure for the 36th National Games in Goa from October 20 to November 4, the decision to build a Rs 2.61 crore baseball stadium at Campal for the National Games, only to have it demolished after the event has shocked players and lovers of the game.
Stating that the State government is spending an estimated Rs 2,61,42,027 to build a baseball stadium on Campal ground, Sports Minister Manohar (Babu) Ajgaonkar stated in reply to a question during the recent assembly, that 40% work of this stadium was complete.
He informed that work on the compound wall was almost complete and work on the main ground had begun, adding that the stadium would be completed by March.
According to a reliable source, the baseball stadium being built comprises a compound wall, changing rooms for players, sitting facilities for spectators, scoreboard and the pitch.
“All this infrastructure will be dismantled after the National Games are over,” said the source.
Despite efforts, Sports Minister Babu Ajgaonkar did not respond to calls for comments in the matter.
State Youth Congress President Varad Mardolkar has hit out at the State government for wasting crores of rupees on the temporary baseball stadium at Campal.
“It’s important to have all facilities for the National Games, but the sports department’s mismanagement of funds will leave Goan players without a permanent baseball ground in the State,” said Mardolkar.
While Goa does not have a full-fledged baseball ground, the National Games was seen as an opportunity to build a baseball stadium, but the government’s decision to build a temporary stadium for the sport has shocked baseball players.
When The Goan contacted baseball players, coaches and fans in the State, almost all of them insisted that the State government should have retained the stadium at Campal ground even after the National Games.
“If it is demolished after the National Games, it would be a gross wastage of funds and besides, Goan players would not have a baseball ground,” remarked one player.
According to a former Goa baseball player, the baseball stadium being at Campal one
of the best in the country.
“This stadium will be on international standards and will be one of the best in the country. Which is why, we are greatly disappointed that it is a temporary stadium and will be demolished after the games.
Despite lacking a proper baseball ground, Goa has been largely successful in baseball at the national level.
India has been holding the senior national baseball tournaments since 1985, which was first organised in New Delhi. The Goa women’s team had won the first place at the national baseball games in 2003 and the men’s team won their first national baseball championshp in 2006.
Between 1985 and 2018, there have been 32 national baseball tournaments and the Goa men’s baseball team has won the tournament seven times, in 2006 (January and December), 2007 (joint winners with Punjab), 2009, 2010 (January and November) and 2015.
The Goa women’s team has also won the tournament at the national level on seven occasions, in 2003, 2004 (March and December), 2006 (January and December), 2007 and 2010. Besides, the women’s team have also finished runner-up at seven tournaments.
When the national tournament was hosted at the Fatorda stadium in 2015, the men’s baseball team emerged champions, while the women’s team were the runners-up.
Despite all the glory the Goan baseball teams have brought to the State, the players have waiting for a long time for a full-fledged baseball stadium.
ADDED LOSSES FOR SAG
Incidentally, the ongoing work at the baseball stadium at the Campal ground has also led to a huge loss of funds to the Sports Authority of Goa (SAG), which manages the Campal ground.
Many tournaments are organised on this ground and the revenue earned goes to the SAG. However, with ongoing work on the temporary baseball stadium since the last three months, matches have been shifted elsewhere and this has led to a loss of revenue for the SAG.
Many have felt that the baseball event at the National Games could have been hosted in another state.
Besides, saving Rs 2.61 crore on a temporary baseball stadium, the Campal ground could have been effectively utilised for games and other events, which could have generated revenue to the SAG.