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Politics must be kept out of city's clubs

Yesterday, this paper carried a front-page report on how the National Sports Club of India (NSCI) at Worli was used as a venue for an event in support of Gujarat CM Narendra Modi’s Run for Unity. Several members slammed the ‘political tamasha’ as they called it, while others said that it inconvenienced members and their guests, who wanted to use the club on Sunday. Their major grouse was that the parking slots at the club were taken.

While the club management defended itself saying that no member was inconvenienced and the parking lot was cleared quickly, members’ did have a valid point about the event.

Club members pay a hefty sum for membership to premier clubs like the NSCI and several more upmarket clubs across South Mumbai. These memberships run into lakhs and several have closed their doors to new members, as they are full up. Other clubs are being opened in the suburbs and other parts of the city.

A club’s primary aim should be to provide sporting facilities and sports coaching to members and their children and offer general fitness and recreational facilities. While most clubs have restaurants, lawns, different rooms in which one can have parties and get togethers, the management must put sports and recreation above all.

As it is, Mumbai’s maidans are regularly used to host political rallies, meetings and general jamborees, which inconvenience sportsmen and mar the ground at times. At Shivaji Park for instance, one sees the practice pitches have been dug up at times, to erect holes for tents and makeshift shamianas.

It is understandable that sometimes, clubs need to give their space for other purposes and may host the odd event. Yet, increasingly, across the city we see clubs hosting song ‘n’ dance events and other entertainment, which may inconvenience members and curtail access to various sporting facilities at the club.

While earning money is important, let clubs try to keep all this to a minimum so that they become spaces to nurture sporting talent and where members and their guests can unwind. In a space-starved city like Mumbai, the best service you can give its citizens is offer more opportunities for games — and those that are not of the political kind. 

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