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A medal for this stadium

Sirsa has come up with a wonder of achievement through teamwork. A stadium with a capacity of 30,000 has come up in 12 days! ANJANA RAJAN reports.


THERE IS chaos, noise and confusion, milling crowds and a rising dust haze. There is jubilation and backslapping. And all the flag-lined roads lead to one destination: The Shah Satnamji Cricket Stadium in Sirsa, Haryana - four hours by road from Delhi. The stadium, which is said to have come up in an astonishing 12 days, has been built under the aegis of the Parampita Shah Satnamji Educational and Welfare Society using a workforce of 10,000.

Touted as being of international standards, it has a capacity of 30,000. With luminaries of the sports world and administration like Rajiv Shukla, Jyoti Vajpai - Treasurer, Board of Control for Cricket in India - besides former cricketers Madan Lal and Atul Wasan and others present at the inauguration of the stadium this past Thursday, the organisers can't be blamed for being in a self-congratulatory mood. The journey from Delhi may have been a marathon to wilt the spirits, but Sirsa's sporting fervour in the blazing sunshine can't be ignored.

Referring to the match between two corporate teams at the inauguration, Jyoti Vajpai strikes the right note when he points out how sometimes big matches are played to nearly empty stands, whereas an estimated 20,000 spectators attended this match in a small town.

Rajiv Shukla's remarks echo this feeling. Describing the new facility as "wonderful" he comments on the significance of this "vast human resource." So although the chances of an international match being played at Sirsa may be remote now, it is only due to other requirements like an international airport, five-star hotel and so on, besides the discretion of the State and national Board, and not due to any lack of enthusiasm among the public.

Beyond stadium

Once the euphoria dies down though, and the visitors have left for Delhi and other urban centres, what do the Society's members intend to do to keep the facility alive with activity? "We run two schools and two colleges, one each for boys and girls," explains Gurbaj Singh, a member of the Management Committee of Dera Sacha Sauda, under which the Society runs as an autonomous body.

The point stressed by Sant Shri Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singhji, the present head of the Dera Sacha Sauda - also known as the Sacha Sauda Ashram - is that sports and education are of equal importance. "Guruji wants that our children should bring a good name to the country as well as to our Society," says Singh.

"Adjacent to the stadium we have a large ground for athletics, basketball, hockey, volleyball and football," explains Singh. "There is also a swimming pool of 25 by 50 metres, with diving board. The ground and swimming pool are continually utilised by our students. We hold four-month sports camps. Out students are hostellers and those serious about sports stay on during the holidays."

Singh is therefore sure that the stadium facility will not go underutilised like many of the public stadiums in the Capital. As for emerging talent, he proudly states that 13 girls from Shah Satnam Ji School have so far made it to international events in China and Japan including skating hockey.

Sirsa residents will no doubt continue to look with hope at the future of their talented young sportsmen and women. As for glory, they have shown they can send records tumbling with this `12-day wonder stadium'. Let's hope the records keep coming.

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