Sports sidelined, priorities shift at Campal stadium


The government has done it again. The trend of letting out sports infrastructure for assorted expos, electoral activities and other non-sporting functions continues. Despite the recent outcry by sportspersons and enthusiasts over allowing a furniture expo at the indoor stadium at Navelim, Salcete, the government has gone ahead and handed over the newly renovated indoor stadium at Campal to the Election Commission for election-related drills.

It is unfortunate that the pleas of sportspersons, associations, administrators and sports lovers continue to be ignored. The move not only smacks of insensitivity but is overtly disrespectful to those who are preparing for sporting events. Leave alone the misuse of the wooden flooring, this unilateral decision sends out a message yet again that sport is not a priority in Goa. Or should we say, elections are above and beyond any other activity?

The idea behind offering the indoor stadium at Campal is baffling against the fact that other premises, including some education institutes, in and around Panaji which are lying vacant could have been effectively used for the purpose. The move is a major setback to sportspersons who were practising regularly because probably the premises could be used more frequently for election-related drills and allied activities that could extend up to counting in March 2022. Let us not forget that the same venue was used as a counting centre during the Zilla Panchayat elections in 2020.

It appears that the state government is only paying lip service to sports and drawing unnecessary political mileage over the infrastructure. If we may recall, Sports Minister Manohar Babu Ajgaonkar had told the house in July this year that the government has spent a whopping Rs 450 crore on creating and upgrading sports infrastructure ahead of the National Games. At an annual general body meeting of the Sports Authority of Goa held last week, Ajgaonkar once again boasted about the infrastructure and facilities and asked sportspersons to deliver medals. At the same meeting Sawant, who is the chairman, asked associations to take the initiative and make optimum use of the indoor and outdoor stadium.

The sports fraternity across Goa and the common citizens find this hard to digest, because, both, the chief minister and the sports minister, are not upholding the spirit of sportsmanship and walking their talk. We still live in a space where sports doesn't get the seriousness it deserves, and yet leaders aspire to build champions and win medals.

We reiterate that infrastructure alone cannot make champions. There is a combination of factors including talent, skill development, fitness, mental conditioning, nutrition and hard work among others that go together to build sportspersons of national or international stature. No sports administrator who aspires to produce champions will make the facilities as make-shift venues for non-sporting events. Sadly, the priorities are completely misplaced here.

Share this