If all goes according to plan, the city’s budding, young kabbadi and kho-kho players would get a chance to shine in future, as the BMC is seriously considering developing open spaces in every ward to promote sports in the city.
Bearing in mind that these age-old sports are sidelined, underfunded and often ignored, the Municipal Commissioner Sitaram Kunte made a proposal to facilitate sports during this year’s budget speech on February 4. “It is proposed to initiate a Sports Development Programme and implement it at the ward level by allocating Rs 25 crore for the same in the budget estimates,” he said.
The civic body’s garden department plans to transform open spaces that are reserved as playground plots, and ensure the infrastructure on these grounds is appropriate by leveling uneven grounds for kho-kho and kabaddi, and creating suitable pitches for cricket and football. Joint Municipal Commissioner, S S Shinde, who is in charge of the garden department, said, “Currently, the plan is at an early stage, as it’s just a proposal. It will first be passed in the general body meeting by all corporators, and then we will be in a position to decide which playground will be developed first.”
Bhaji is in luck
With the civic body concerned about ensuring children take up sports, cricketer Harbhajan Singh’s plans to start a coaching school has received a boost. Harbhajan recently visited the BMC office to seek permission to coach kids and during the meeting also assured the civic chief that municipal school children would be trained.
Leader of the house in the BMC Yashodhar Phanse said, “Harbhajan needs to be granted permission, as he is here for a good cause where he will run his academy at the BMC-owned sports complex in Andheri and also coach municipal school children.”
He added, “This training will help the children participate in various cricket tournaments. Hence, the development of open spaces into playgrounds must be initiated at the earliest.” Approximately 177 open spaces in the city are reserved as recreation grounds and playground plots. Only after the authorities decide which grounds they will develop, will kabbadi and kho-kho be given their due.