No pools, or Astro turf, Jharkhand players go to nationals

January 29th, 2011 - 10:55 am ICT by IANS  

By Nityanand Shukla
Ranchi, Jan 29 (IANS) Swimmers mastering their butterfly strokes on dry ground, shooters taking aim without bullets, hockey teams never playing on Astro turf - with just a fortnight to go for Jharkhand to host the 34th National Games, the state of preparedness of its players presents a grim picture.The 34th National Games were awarded to Jharkhand in 2003 and were originally scheduled for 2007. The dates were postponed six times for want of infrastructure.

Jharkhand, where cricket and hockey are the popular sports, has not distinguished itself in any other game nationally.

Till some days ago, the swimmers were ‘practising’ inside a flat, where they would lie on the ground and thrash about as if in water! Not only that, more than half of the 40-member strong contingent haven’t even seen a swimming pool in their lives. Having grown up swimming in lakes and ponds in their native villages, the sportspersons were unaware of the swimming pool.

However, after media reports surfaced, the swimmers were provided a swimming pool.

Now, the shooters are facing more or less a similar problem. Around 33 shooters selected for the National Games are practising without bullets and other infrastructure.

“We are practising without bullets. We target by only keeping our eyes on the bully,” a player told IANS.

Echoing his emotions, another player said: “We have to practise on a manual bully. In the National Games, we will compete with players of other states who practise on electronic bully.”

Secretary of Jharkhand Shooting Association Shambhu Thakur admitted the shooting practice was not up to the standards of the National Games.

“We are providing training by inviting coaches from other states. Our players are trying their best to practise,” Thakur said.

The shooting training is going on in a private school situated at Tatisilve in Ranchi.

“We are somehow managing. No one should expect that we are going to win medals in the games,” said Pratyush Kumar, a shooter.

The condition of hockey is more or less the same. The men and women hockey teams for the National Games are yet to be selected. The training camps are to begin Feb 1.

The players, who dream to make it to the national side, are practising without Astro turf, a synthetic grass field.

“We are trying our best to get selected in the hockey team. But we are practising on ground without Astro turf. This is sheer neglect on the part of the Hockey Federation,” a hockey player said.

Savitri Purti, secretary of the Jharkhand Women Hockey Association, said: “We will try to select the best players and give them a good try in camps in the next two weeks.”

Meanwhile, Jharkhand Olympic Association President R.K. Anand has appealed to the media not to focus on the negative aspects.

(Nityanand Shukla can be contacted at nityanand.s@ians.in)

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