The prominent sporting hub- Gachibowli stadium - in Hyderabad -has been shut down for two days. The reason was the grand wedding ceremony of Union labour and employment minister Bandaru Dattatreya's daughter
All sportspersons who went to the premises on Wednesday for practice saw gates closed with an unexpected notice. It read: "...the entire stadium will remain closed on 23rd and 24th November on account of Sri Bandaru Dattatreya's daughter's wedding ceremony".
It added that "the regular sessions at the indoor stadium would resume only from November 28."
While authorities said security reasons for the temporary closure, it has clearly failed to amuse sportspersons."It just breaks the continuity and that hurts the overall tempo of practice. I hate having to take forced breaks," admitted a badminton player.
The wedding ceremony is scheduled for 9.30 am on Thursday. Around 20,000 guests including a host of VVIPs are expected to attend the event.
Many sportspersons were irked by this trend of renting out sporting venues for VIP functions.
"Letting out stadium space for political party meets, marriages or any other ceremonies is spoiling our sports culture. Children are very sensitive to such disturbances and they get disappointed when they reach their stadium to find it closed for an event," said Victor Amalraj, former captain of the Indian football team.
He added: "To create top-level players, we need to give them a professional environment -something that the Gopichand Academy offers. You will find players there playing around the clock."
Apart from the Gachibowli stadium, even the Lal Bahadur Shastri stadium is often closed in order to conduct religious meetings, marriages and concerts. Recently even the state government `took over' the stadium to hold Bathukamma celebrations within the premises.
"We must also realise that renting these places for such events can cause extensive damage to the grounds. I do not know whether it makes any economic sense given the high cost of the renovation involved, post any such event," said a senior volleyball player from the city .
"Our water and power bills run into lakhs while members only pay a small fee. We rent out the stadium for functions to raise funds for maintenance of the stadium," said A N K Gokul, administrator of the Gachibowli stadium, reiterating the security requirement for Thursday's event.
"Because of the thick security blanket, children coming to practice would have had to face difficulties getting past the gates. Hence we announced a two-day holiday ," he added.
BY M. DIVYA SRI