Non-sporting events should be banned at stadium, says Olympian

Olympian sprinter Kenneth Powell, who used to practise at the Kanteerava Stadium before he turned a top-class sprinter, seeks a blanket ban on non-sporting activities there. In an interview to Deccan Herald, Powell, who has competed in the 1964 Olympics in Tokyo, said the stadium, in its present condition, does not motivate young athletes.

Excerpts:

What is the main problem that is ailing the Kanteerava Stadium?
Even though the facilities at the stadium are better compared to those in the era when I used to practise, the ambience is not good for both trainers and young athletes to practise here. The main problem is lack of necessary infrastructure, including proper toilets. Maintenance of existing equipment is poor. During training, on many occasions, sportspersons get distracted by non-sports activities.

What needs to be done immediately to save the stadium?
We need to ban the non-sports activities in Kanteerava Stadium as early as possible. Once it is done, the focus should shift to upgrading the facilities.

How do you compare Kanteerava with stadiums across the world?

Many lessons are to be learnt as far as facilities and maintenance are concerned. For instance, most stadiums of this kind around the world have a separate training track outside the main stadium. The track inside the stadium should be used exclusively for tournaments. The synthetic track inside the Kanteerava Stadium was laid 15 years ago and many competitions have been held here since then.

As the same track has been used for training too, the material has worn out over the years. Sometimes, the main track is used even by joggers. While there is a small training track outside the stadium, it is just 200 metres long.

What needs to be done to maintain tracks in good shape?

As I said earlier, training activities should not be allowed on the main track in the stadium. It should be used only for tournaments. Even if the main track has to be provided for training, a fee should be collected from trainees. Some years ago, there was a system of fee collection for training at the stadium. But, it was stopped, following protests by athletes and sportspersons.

Do you think more ammunition needs to be added to the ongoing struggle to save the stadium?

Occasionally, sportspersons and coaches have raised their voice to save the stadium for the future. However, there needs to be a more sustained effort. Sportspersons should gear up to save the pride of Bangalore and there is a need to put more pressure on the authorities now. If sportspersons remain silent, the situation will turn worse.

Do you suggest policy changes to protect and upgrade stadiums of this kind?

More than the policy changes, the government should be serious about the maintenance of the stadium. The infrastructure and facilities are in a bad shape. The Department of Youth Services and Sports has been collecting huge amounts for sporting as well as non-sporting activities at the stadium. The money should be used for the development of the
stadium.

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