By Hareesh K G
Kodagu is well known for defence personnel and sports achievers. Even though a tiny district, Kodagu has produced innumerable sporting icons over the years. A report recently said that over 50 players from Kodagu have represented Indian hockey team till date. Not only hockey, we have had brilliant sportspersons in other disciplines like athletics, tennis and badminton too.
From September to May Kodagu sees a lot of sports events ranging from hockey to cricket to volleyball. Track and field events are being organised every year. Thousands of young budding sportspersons participate in these.
One important question though. Does Kodagu have the appropriate or adequate sports infrastructure? Sadly, the facilities are not up to the mark. We have two turf hockey grounds, one each in Madikeri and Ponnampet. Few years ago, there was a public swimming pool in Madikeri, but today it is in a mess. Hockey is encouraged in Kodagu with many tournaments taking place around the year. But what about other sports? We have three sports hostels in our district. But the facilities available are not adequate.
Even though Kodagu is a small district, moving from remote villages to district headquarters or taluk headquarters for practice every morning is an uphill task. In other districts there are proper transportation and other facilities, but our district and taluk headquarters lack basic sports infrastructure. There is a potential for swimming, squash, kabaddi, badminton champions to emerge from our district if proper training and facilities are given.
A state-of-the-art stadium should be the priority. Training camps should be conducted in our district by Karnataka State Olympics Association. Earlier our own MLA was in charge of youth and sports ministry of the state. What are the benefits we have received? We have to search for the answer. We, the people of Kodagu, should request the state government for basic sports infrastructure. Central government is very enthusiastic about starting a sports university in Mizoram. As Kodagu has given innumerable sports achievers to the nation, it is our right to ask for a national-level sports academy or sports university to our district.
Selection process for national level teams should be conducted in our land. Our sports persons may or may not get a chance in the national teams, but at least our youth will experience high level of competition. We should get national players and legends to Kodagu and make them interact with young talent. As I have seen in some other districts, they protest for their needs. But here in Kodagu we are cool and calm. It is time to pull up our socks and do our bit for improving sports facilities.
(Hareesh K G is an Assistant Professor at First Grade College, Murnad, Kodagu.)