“The summer of 1939 was in a hurry, or perhaps Liesel was. She spent her time playing football with Rudy and the other kids on Hummel Street (a year-round pastime), taking ironing around town with Mama, and learning words. It felt like it was over a few days after it began.” – The Heavyweight Champion of the Schoolyard, in The Book Thief by Markus Zusak.
With the 37th National Games set to start in less than ten days, the feeling of when is it going to end creeps into the system because these games were planned to have started a long time ago.
At last, the games are on, or should we say the infrastructure that was ready is now technically ready. The setting of the Games was in place but COVID-19 played spoilsport and the opportunity to bleed the exchequer showed up in another manner.
Forgetting the past and looking forward, the 37th National Games, like most other such events, is for sportspeople. Borrowing a cliché – it should be for them, of them and by them. Any such event should be the best platform for our athletes to get acclimatized to the best playing conditions to enable them to shine at the international level.
Despite the infrastructure being in place, a whopping amount has been spent on getting the infrastructure that was ready, ready again and as the inaugural day nears, it is obvious that a big eyewash was undertaken under everyone’s eyes.
The 37th National Games, or any event of such magnitude, normally leaves behind a legacy in terms of infrastructure that can be used once the event ends. For Goa, how this legacy will hold is a big ask even before the start of the games because of the manner in which things were tied together.
Apart from the Nehru Stadium in Fatorda – which is what it is today because of the international and national competition it hosts – the rest of the facilities put together should hopefully offer athletes a different platform to prove their worth.
During the preparations for the games, what was built was demolished and something new erected where actually they should be touched upon because none of the facilities that were ready in 2022 were actually used.
So, the wear and tear was negligible and therefore the need to pull down and put up new structures was not required. Instead, in the name of development, entities were brought in and only they and the individual concerned could convince themselves that after the National Games, sports people will be able to enjoy the best sporting facilities.
The truth is, nothing good can be done hurriedly or at the last minute and the badminton courts at Peddem Sports Complex, Mapusa, are an example. The wooden surface was laid in less than a month’s time. The surface should last the duration of the games but what happens thereafter?
Many of the competitions are going to be hosted in temporary structures, as is evident from what is sprouting up in the different venues, and most will be dismantled once the games are over, thus leaving us with little in terms of legacy.
Leaving behind a legacy means leaving behind venues wherein our athletes in the future will be able to practice on world-class surfaces, to be able to excel and bring glory for themselves and the State.
The government had, in fact, even built a stadium in Pernem for the National Games which ironically is not even being used. This is the legacy being left by our men in power.
The National Games have been a milking cow for past and present Sports Ministers. Crores have been spent in the name of building infrastructure and what we now see is some whitewash called development.
Most of our athletes have not even had the opportunity to practice on this new infrastructure put in place for the 37th National Games. Hopefully, the surfaces will not tweak as the games are going on but this will be a temporary reprieve because the truth will unfold once the games are over.
Then, the minister will blame the contractor and promise to take action but it will be us having a knowing smirk on our faces, for in these days pulling wool over others’ eyes is not easy. But attempting to do so, will be the legacy they will leave behind.