Jalandhar: Several miles away from the glitter of Rio Olympics 2016, Jalandhar – the sports hub of Punjab – is scripting change on the national and international map but at a slow pace. Seven years after it was announced, Punjab Government’s maiden initiative of setting up Punjab Institute of Sports (PIS) in place of the leading Government Arts and Sports College here was now getting shape. The PIS was announced under the Sports Policy 2009.
Though the construction of sports wings is going on at full swing, players are being forced to practice on worn-out equipment. The PIS comprises venues for gymnastics, volleyball, athletics, wrestling, basketball court and the recently renovated swimming pool. Sports Department officials shared that the sports equipment would be purchased later. Currently, the construction of a viewer’s gallery on the synthetic track, sports building with new spacious halls and hostel for boys and girls was going on at full swing.
The PIS was being constructed at an estimated cost of Rs 8 crore. Last month, the sports authorities renovated state-of-the-art 50 m swimming pool at a cost of Rs 1 crore. “The swimming pool known for its international standard was reconstructed with new rooms, washrooms, bathrooms and audience gallery,” said District Sports officer (DSO) Amrik Singh.
However, the glitch remains with the synthetic athletic track, which has not been renovated since 1998. A survey of the synthetic track revealed its poor condition, where the athletes were practicing to compete in national and international events. At many places, the track was badly torn while stray dogs were roaming inside causing enough trouble to the athletes. “We have no other option but to practice on this synthetic track, which is no where near the international standards. To add upon the chaos, stray dogs disturb our practice sessions,” said an athlete.
The DSO, Amrik Singh, maintained that the average life of the synthetic track was eight to 10 years only. “Contrary to this, the Sports Department ended up using it for over 18 years. We are aware of its poor condition and a new synthetic track would be laid once the ongoing sewer work was completed. By the next academic session, majority of these tasks would be completed,” he added.
On the other hand, the gymnastics hall, which was running on old equipment dating back to the year 1986, was nothing short of a worn out building.
Interestingly, the sports department had purchased some of the gymnastic equipment from a firm of London Olympics 2012. “It was in the year 2013 that the department purchased some equipment from a firm on discount rate of Rs 45 lakh,” the DSO maintained. The hockey wing had been closed some years ago.
Institution has produced over 100 int’l players
The then Government Arts and Sports College and now PIS, Jalandhar came into being in the year 1961. The then Chief Minister, Pratap Singh Kairon, had laid the foundation of sports school-cum-college in Jalandhar. The idea was to set up a sports institution to produce the best sports stars.
The institution on over 10 acres has produced over 100 international players. Some of the leading names include hockey star Arjuna awardee Col(retd) Balbir Singh, late Surjit Singh, Sajjan Singh Cheema, former Indian Hockey team captain Colonel Harcharan Singh, athlete Jugraj Singh, Sukhraj Singh, international volleyball player Sukhwant Singh to name a few.
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