The hockey matches of 2019 Khelo India Games that were scheduled to be hosted in the Balewadi Sports Complex, have now been shifted to MHA Stadium, Mumbai and National Defence Academy, Khadakwasla.
This comes after a team of Sports Authority of India (SAI) officials announced that the hockey turf failed to confirm with the minimum playing standard.
This was confirmed later by Maharashtra sports minister, Vinod Tawde, who said that the facility was not ready as per the international standards at the time of SAI’s inspection.
The officials informed that the inspection was done on two separate occasions in November. On the first occasion, the turf had certain issues with the stitches and uneven playing surface. Although requisite repair works were carried post the inspection, the committee was not satisfied by the quality of the turf.
However, he curtailed from giving any further details on the matter. Consequently, the second negative report led to SAI’s decision to shift the hockey matches to Mumbai and NDA. Sunil Kendrekar, Sports Commissioner of Maharashtra, informed that a sum of ₹ 5.5 crores had been disbursed for the repair work of the playing turf.
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“A Matter of Pride for Pune and Maharashtra”
Speaking at a press conference, Minister Vinod Tawde said that the government’s objective with Khelo India Games is to increase sports’ penetration in every district.
“It is a matter of pride for Maharashtra and Pune to host the second edition of Khelo India games. The state secured the second highest number of gold medals in the first edition. Maharashtra competed with Chhattisgarh and Odisha in hosting the games, and successfully won the bid.” Tawde said.
“While development of sports infrastructure may be seen as the effect of games, our objective is also to increase sports penetration in every district. It is important to increase the numbers of sportspersons winning medals, and also the ones interested in playing. If young kids in Osmanabad district, for example, can watch a player from their district, they would be motivated to play, and that is what we are aiming for,” Tawde concluded.
The second edition of the event is scheduled to be held across 18 disciplines in 2 categories – U-21 and U-17. More than 12,000 talented sports persons are expected to participate in the mega event across India. Apart from Mumbai and NDA, the certain disciplines will also be hosted by venues like the football ground of Flame University campus, police ground in Shivaji Nagar, and Army Sports of India complex.
The event will be inaugurated on January 9 by Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and Union Sports Minister Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore.
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