Govt announces Centres of Excellence for football, swimming

New Delhi: In a first of its kind initiative in the country, the government announced the setting up of two Centres of Excellence dedicated to football and swimming in the national capital to raise the standard of the two sports to international level.

Sports Minister Ajay Maken told reporters in his customary monthly press conference that the two Centres of Excellence will be set up at Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium and Talkatora Swimming Pool Complex which will be equipped with
residential and other state-of-the-art facilities.

"We have 12 Centres of Excellence in the country with all of them having multi-sport facilities. But we have decided to set up a a COE each for football and swimming at JN Stadium and Talkatora Swimming Pool Complex," Maken said while
presenting a detailed plan on how to use the infrastructure put in place in the capital for the Commonwealth Games.

"They will also be equipped with residential facilities and state-of-art facilities for elite athletes. These two COEs should have more than 100 trainees each. We are working out the details with the two national federations," he said.

"The JN stadium will be developed as `hub` of football and athletics. The football pitch inside the 400m track will be main training arena and even I-League matches for Delhi-based Indian Arrows can be played there," he said.

"The Lawn Bowl facility adjacent to the JN Stadium which can cater to 200-odd spectators can be used for football training purposes. Besides, the other facilities at the JN Complex used during the CWG will be used for training of weightlifting and volleyball," he added.

Maken said this is in addition to football being made a major discipline in the other 12 Centres of Excellence.

"Wherever the area inside any 400m tack at various SAI Centres and COEs can used as football pitches, we will do that," he said.

Maken also announced a legacy utilization plan of the CWG infrastructure in the capital with the aim of putting the newly constructed/renovated stadia to optimum use. He also unveiled a `Come and Play` Scheme which envisages opening up of the SAI stadia in the city for use by school children, students, sportsperson and common people mainly on payment basis.

A committee comprising PT Usha, Bhaichung Bhutia, MC Mary Kom, Dilip Tirkey and senior sports journalist K Dutta along with the Sports Secretary had prepared a blue print of this legacy utilization.

"Designated areas in the stadia are being thrown open from May 15 for imparting professional training to established sportspersons and also to beginners with the twin objective of encouraging participation in sports as also optimum utilization of the Stadia", Maken said.

"SAI will deploy 70 coaches in its stadia to impart training to children and those meritorious will be given scholarships," he said.

Maken admitted that the legacy utilisation plan has been delayed a bit but said at least the sports ministry has come out with a programme for the use of the stadia.

"I don`t think the infrastructure after 1982 Asian Gameswas utilised properly but we are coming out with a plan at least though I admit it was a bit delayed," he said.

Jawahar Lal Nehru Stadium will be thrown open for training by elite athletes and for the CAP Scheme from May 23. The other facilities at the JN Complex will be opened for weightlifting (June 1), football (May 23) and volleyball (June 1).

Karni Singh Shooting Ranges will be opened from May 2 S P Mukherjee Swimming Pool Complex from June 6 and Major Dhyan Chand Stadium for hockey and cricket from June 16 for elite athlete training and for CAP Scheme.

Indira Gandhi Indoor Stadium will be opened for gymnastics, table tennis and badminton from May 18 while KD Jadhav Stadium will be opened from May 20 for wrestling, boxing, judo and basketball training.

The Cycling Velodrome will be opened on July 1 while the open area of the IG Sports Complex will be opened for archery at a later date.

The facilities will be opened for all age groups (below 25, above 25 and all age group) with specific time for various categories. Admission in swimming under CAP Scheme will be on trial and not for beginners.

To utilise the stadium optimally, the stadia would be pened for both morning and evening sessions during summer break period in schools and colleges.

The venues may be offered to educational institutions, schools of excellence and other organizations for sporting activities on higher charges.

The fee has been kept low ranging from Rs 75 to Rs 500 per month to encourage wide use of the facilities. The facilities will be available free of cost to people below the poverty line (BPL) subject to a ceiling of 10 per cent of total capacity and at one third of the mentioned rates to children of government schools.

Complementary membership (without fees) would be issued to Arjuna and Dronacharya Awardees, international sportspersons and national medal winners during last three years, SAI employees/their spouse and children on yearly basis.