In A city where space is always an issue, the news came as a breath of fresh air. Somaiya Sports Academy, an initiative of Somaiya Vidyavihar has launched Mumbai’s first banked skating and cycling track at its Sion campus. Used for roller derby events, a banked track is an oval skating surface designed with raised and sloped turns. As the pitch of the banked turns increases, the skater’s speed potential increases too.
Built from an investment of over Rs 25 lakhs, the skating bank follows specifications that fall in line with national tournament requirements, which is 200 metres inner oval and approximately 240 metres square on the outer perimetre. The width of the track is 7 metres, of which 6.5 metres is usable.
“It was shocking to learn that Mumbai, despite having thousands of young skating enthusiasts, did not have a skating track. So, we took it up as one of our initial initiatives,” says Samir Somaiya, president, Somaiya Vidyavihar. The track can be used by skating enthusiasts from across Mumbai. The academy will offer coaching for beginners, intermediate and advanced skaters as well as competitive training. “We believe that there is an urgent need in Mumbai for creating accessible spaces for sports, both from the perspective of competitive training and for inculcating the habit of sports,” says Kedar Tembe, sports director, Somaiya Sports Academy. “It is a facility to conduct intensive coaching programmes, organise competitions or just let people in the city have a secure breathing space while they learn a skill or spend some recreational time. With most city schools offering roller skating coaching programmes, students, after achieving a certain level of competence, are keen to train on a full-size track to sharpen their skills further. A significant number also pursue the sport further. So, even if a small percentage actually gets the opportunity to practise and learn at a professional level, the difference that can be made is huge,” he adds.
The skating rink was inaugurated with an Open Speed Skating Tournament on June 9, where over 170 students between the age five to 14 participated, across 28 categories. “We have created and provided sports infrastructure to our students, not only in Mumbai but also in our rural schools and tried to promote and support students, who are interested in sports,” shares Somaiya.
(From top) Children learn skating at Mumbai’s first banked skating and cycling track at Somaiya Vidyavihar’s Sion campus. The track can also be used for cycling. Pics/Datta Kumbhar
“Private sports clubs are mushrooming, but as an educational institution, we also want to focus on community development and youth development. It is important to create such spaces as they change the community dynamics, bringing children and parents together. It gives parents the confidence to encourage their children to take up various sporting activities, knowing that the talented will get the requisite support,” he concludes.
Time: 4 pm to 7 pm (Monday to Friday for coaching and membership facilities), 6 am to 9 (for coaching on weekends)
At: Somaiya Ayurvihar Complex, Eastern Express Highway, near Everard Nagar, Sion (E).