Most of the sporting facilities at Nepalgunj Stadium in a shambles

- ADARSHA DHAKAL, Nepalgunj

Apr 20, 2019-

A covered hall inside the Nepalgunj Stadium premises is laced with a banner reflecting the pre-event mood of the Mid Western Sports Development Committee. The local organising committee boasts through a script which, if translated into English, says: “Mission Eighth National Games.”

Nine days into the Games, the Nepalgunj Stadium is still a work in progress in terms of infrastructure readiness. Some of the sports disciplines are certain to be postponed because venues are not ready yet. The stadium hosted a colourful opening ceremony on Thursday. But a closer look at the venue gives an impression of a construction site rather than a sporting facility.

At the stadium premises, athletes are outnumbered by construction workers, who are busy in a last-ditch effort to make sure the swimming competition, scheduled to begin from Sunday, are held on time. On Friday, the first day of shooting had to be postponed due to the lack of minimum required facility. The ‘shooting range’ lacked electricity connection required to not only lit up the facility but also to run fans.

It was only after some technical assistance from Nepal Shooting Association that shooting range at the covered hall was made tournament-ready late on Friday. But the competition still had to be postponed as the shooters needed  a day for adjusting to the playing conditions. “This is quite strange,” an annoyed shooting head coach Pradip Khati said. “The problem was they (organising committee) had put all their focus, manpower and energy to prepare the opening ceremony. There were none to attend or focus on equally important matters like giving final touches to facilities like shooting range.”

A day after President Vidya Devi Bhandari declared the Games open, works were still in progress at the VIP parapet. Considering the current pace of the work, it would be surprising to see it done by the closing ceremony. The main covered all, which hosted fencing events, looks an unmanaged venue and requires proper cleaning.

The under-construction swimming pool is far behind the schedule as none of the facilities required to host the event is ready. The swimming pool, which needs 1.6 million litres of water, is not even half full and the parapet meant to accommodate 1,500 spectators is still under construction. Another group of workers were rushing to prepare toilets, shower and changing rooms to be used by swimmers and footballers.

Nepal Swimming Association President Ashok Bajracharya said getting the events done in the designated venue would lay a good foundation for swimming in the coming days. “Its nice to see that there is a standard swimming pool at this place with a parapet that can accommodate a decent crowd. We want the swimming events to be held here but even if we don’t manage to get the job done, the facility needs to be upgraded even after the Games,” said Bajracharya.

The entire stadium premises is prepared in such a rush that not a single venue has got a complete shape. Even the Nepalgunj Stadium ground cannot hold any matches anytime soon since the grass was laid just few days before the Games. But still it is hosting the men’s football championship medal match.

The eighth National Games has laid a good foundation for sports infrastructure outside the Kathmandu Valley. In fact, Nepalgunj Stadium is the best sporting facility in operation that Nepal has considering that the Dashrath Stadium in Kathmandu is currently undergoing renovation. Minor glitches in management and missing deadlines in terms of some infrastructure readiness have certainly soured the Games. But setting up a strong sporting infrastructure outside Kathmandu will go down in history as a big positive of the eighth National Games.

“In any part of the world, sporting meets like these always go smoothly without any glitches. The shooting range here looks fine if looked after properly. We can expect more shooters coming from this region in the future. But the organisers should be mindful of avoiding such mistakes like we did here. Such minor hiccups will only contribute demoralising players,” said Khati.

Published: 20-04-2019 10:16

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