International Zone: the biggest hit at CWG Village

"The international zone is marvellous and I am sure the athletes would enjoy it," Nigerian Chef de Mission, Elias Gora said after taking a round of the area.

The zone which is a demarcated area in the village is meant for extrasport activities for the athletes and has lots of recreation facilities.

"This is the best place in the whole of the village, I love coming here," an official with the Kenyan contingent said.

Members from the Indian contingent -- the first team to check-in at the village -- have been regularly spotted in the zone.

"The international zone is very good. I enjoy spending time there and it is a world class facility," boxing star Akhil Kumar told PTI.

The state-of-the art golf simulator at the zone which allows one to play golf on a graphically simulated driving range in an indoor setting has been a hit with athletes from many countries.

"We had some foreign athletes taking part in virtual golfing action and since we are offering the service for free, we expect many more foot falls once all the teams arrive here," said Ashutosh, the in-charge at the facility.

There is also a gaming zone with billiards tables, a TV lounge, an ice-cream parlour, in addition to shopping opportunities like merchandise shop, handicrafts outlet, electronic store and a general store that sells provisions.

The shops have stored items imported specially from the Commonwealth nations to make the visiting contingents feel at home.

"We have specially imported chocolates, chips and cakes for the athletes so that they don't feel away from their homes," Arun Saini, manager at the general store, said
The handicrafts store has art pieces from all over India to ensure that the residents get a feel of the rich cultural heritage and diversity of Indian art.

"From Kashmiri Paper Machie to Banarasi scarves and Kanchipuram silk, our store has specialties from all over India and we have had some curious visitors so far," a manager at the store said while pointing towards the shinning metal statues from Moradabad.

A discotheque where athletes can unwind is adds to the experience. The restaurant-cum-bar at the zone will also be a special attraction for the foodies who may want to go for gourmet meals.

One more attraction for the look-conscious inhabitants of the 63.5 acre village is the saloon where many foreign teams including the English have booked advance appointments.

The English team would be moving in tomorrow.
"A manager from the England team came here inquiring about various packages we provide ...the response has been encouraging so far with many advance bookings coming our way," an executive at the saloon said.

The open amphitheater will see flag ceremonies and cultural programs being held for various participating nations. The nearby musical fountain is also a delight especially during the evening hours when lights, water and music produce a mesmerising effect.
"This is the best place for the athletes to sit and relax after all the practice session. Enjoy the evening with the fountain and cultural programs," the Organising Committee (OC) chairman, Suresh Kalmadi said.

Interestingly, the international zone was one of the first areas in the village that was ready and appreciation has come from all quarters.

"I stand by my statement that the international zone is fantastic. It has got a lot of accolades from different CGA members," Hooper has said.

For the Games village that has been in the eye of a storm over the past few days especially after the pictures of unhygienic residential quarters and incomplete facilities came out, the international zone surely has been a face-saver so far.

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