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Getting infrastructure in place

Organisers are working double-time to get the venues ready for the sporting extravaganza, writes

L.V. Subramanyam (left) is upbeat about the preparations — Photo: P.V. Sivakumar

THERE IS no worry on the infrastructure front. This emphatic statement from L.V. Subrahmanyam, secretary-general (infrastructure) for the inaugural edition of the Afro-Asian Games to be held here from October 24 to November, can aptly sum up the upbeat mood among the top brass, which is gearing up for the mega-sporting event in a big way.

Clearly, proof of this level of confidence is the speed with which the Rs.14-crore hockey complex is being completed at the Swarnandhra Pradesh Sports Complex (Gachibowli).

Already at one venue, the turf is completely laid, and similar work will begin on the other one soon as per FIH specifications.

What is the major difference for a key official like Subrahmanyam, on the organisational front, when compared to the 32nd National Games last December?

"Well, then I had to deal with several subjects. Now my role is confined to infrastructure. This gave ample scope to focus and do intensive planning to meet the expectations of one and all," he says.

He also cites that for the first time, the Government opted for design-and-build concept against the normal trend of designing and then calling for tenders to allot the workto contractors.

The whole idea is to avoid delay and this is the reason why we are optimistic of completing this complex by October 15, within the 70-day deadline. More importantly, it gave us a chance to see that all the requirements are duly met while executing the job, he added.

Commenting on the overall preparations for the Games, Subrahmanyam, who also happens to be the vice-chairman and managing director of SAAP, is confident that by October 15 the entire infrastructure will be in place for the Games.

It is confessed that the absence of a Games Village is a major hindrance.

But the official reason is that it would have costthem about Rs.80 crores to upgrade the existing facilities at the complex used for the National Games.

And with the builder there expressing concern that the flats so used for the Games could well be treated as second-hand by his customers, and despite the best efforts of the panel headed by the Principal Secretary (Housing) and another headed by the Home Minister, the Government had to settle for the other alternative, which comes to one-tenth of the above cost.

Consequently, all the star hotels were requested to give us bulk bookings.

This is the reason we are confident that security concerns will be duly taken care off, says Subrahmanyam. The entire accommodation complexes will be cordoned and quality vehicles will be used for transporting the athletes and the officials, he added.

If the last National Games were widely believed to be a perfect opportunity to create world-class infrastructure in the State, what will be the biggest benefit for the State by hosting the Afro-Asian Games? "Well, exposure of local talent to the world champions is something many of us can only dream of. We personally believe that the inhibitions that Indians may not attain the international standards can be comfortably removed by merely watching the sporting greats, train and in action during the Games," says Subrahmanyam.

"Essentially, we hope to see large number of parents encourage their kids to take up sports as a career. It is no more only academics, " he says.

The marketing of the last National Games was not up to the expectations, so what are the plans now? "We are already assured that the Centre would pool in Rs.30 crores through public sectors and another Rs.20 crores is assured through other sectors for the Games. We are always optimistic on this front," the secretary-general explains.

He also reminds that it is imperative for some of the State Sports Associations officials to change their attitude towards organising the events, after these sporting spectacles.

They can always look to sponsored activity from the Government but time has come to be in a position to conduct events on their own, he stressed.

Once the Afro-Asian Games are over, there will be a revamp of sports policy particularly on the multiplication factor of cash incentives - like one athlete winning five gold and duly collecting a huge sum.

"It is time incentives begin at the school games-level, and the focus will be more on indigenous sports too," Subrahmanyam said.

He also mentioned that the prestigious International Management Group has already been assigned the task of training Physical Education Teachers from November 15 to prepare a functioning hub at the district-level. The PETs will be essentially trained to identify talent, put the budding stars in proper training schedules at the district-level with a budgetary allocation of Rs.3 crores. In fact, the IMG will be visiting the districts soon.

The role of the IMG in the Games too is that of a friend, philosopher and guide, he says.

Subrahmanyam is diplomatic in answering whether the best of the athletes will be here for the Games.

"We are not sure of the efficacy of the IOA role in the hierarchy of the Afro-Asian Council. But, if the big stars don't turn up, it is certainly going to be a failure on their part," he says quite frankly.

Importantly, the State administration doesn't feel that budget will be a problem, and as things stand they are confident of meeting the entire expenditure within the Rs.103 crores, already sanctioned.

For his part, Subrahmanyam is sure that the athletes and the technical officials will be fully satisfied with the playing arenas and other related areas.

Though there is a growing feeling that the IOA is more keen on showcasing the opening and closing ceremonies of the Afro-Asian Games than putting the best efforts to have the cream of talent here, the State administration is not in the mood to waste time in pondering on the imponderables. The target is simple - keep the venues fit by the deadline.

And, it seems it is now within the realms of reality.


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