Budding cricketers in Thane have nowhere to play, as the popular Dadoji Konddev stadium has been shut since the monsoon. However, in an irony of sorts, the stadium was rented out for an ad film shoot featuring India cricket captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni on Wednesday.
According to coaches of clubs that use the stadium, practice at the ground has stopped since the monsoon began and players have not been allowed to make use of the facility even now, despite the rains having receded more than a month ago. Coaches and players said the ground is being primarily used as a venue for gatherings like award functions and music concerts. This is shameful, considering that young players, all aspiring Dhonis perhaps, have nowhere to go and practice. Cricket maidans are full after monsoon, as the season starts in earnest. The monsoon lay off may have made players rusty, and the coaches are eager to get their wards back into the swing of things. It is also high season for cricket, and there are numerous tournaments at the local and school level.
The ground is one of its kind in Thane and it is especially unfortunate that it is shut to players in and around Thane. Coaches are especially aggrieved that the youngsters lost out on substantial practice time during the Diwali vacation.
With academic schedules and pressures being what they are, students have to eke out time for sports practice. It is disappointing that an entire vacation went waste as the stadium was closed.
The city and its sister cities like Thane are actually struggling to offer open spaces to sportspersons to play. Our maidans are few, and on many days are taken over for all kinds of protests and rallies. Mumbai has already lost its dominance in certain sports (like cycling and swimming) and one of the reasons is the lack of practice facilities.
Players need to be able to access the stadium. Grounds are not for entertainment and weddings only, but for sport.
Let us respect and adhere to that if we want to become a sporting power.