The long wait for the inauguration of two tennis courts, which should have been a new facility at Thoothukudi district sports stadium by now, seems likely to continue.
With an active private tennis club already in Thoothukudi, many tennis players have been eagerly waiting for the new facility to be opened, Edmond Thennavan from Thoothukudi said.
With no alternative to the private club, sportspersons were destined to make their way to the club and sweat it out. If the much-awaited facility becomes a reality soon, then ordinary sportspersons can well afford it. While Thoothukudi is progressing towards a new phase of ‘smart city’ with key infrastructure developments, sports infrastructure development should also come parallel with the progress of the city, he said.
Another stadium user, K Velraj, said unlike a couple of tennis courts in the private club in Thoothukudi, the new facility is far better since the courts are nine-layered. Taking pride, he said Thoothukudi district has a distinct advantage of having a world-class synthetic hockey stadium at Kovilpatti.
Thoothukudi Collector Sandeep Nanduri, when contacted, said the new facility could not be opened to sportspersons as there was a delay in the electrification works. “Now that the works are over, it is expected to be inaugurated soon. Owing to the local body elections, the facility could not be dedicated to sportspersons,” he told DT Next.
According to District Sports Officer TV Patrick, nearly Rs 1 lakh was spent on electrification for floodlights and other necessary arrangements. A month ago, floodlights were installed as per the quality standards recommended by the Sports Development Authority of Tamil Nadu (SDAT).
The facility, which is only next to the neighbouring Tirunelveli in the southernmost region of Tamil Nadu, has been made purely in the interest of the district administration which pooled local funds.
The daily average attendance at this district stadium, which remains open from 4 am to 8 pm, is about 4,000. But, most of them seem to access the stadium for recreation and fitness, rather than competitive spirit of sports. Those who access the stadium should develop sportsmanship initiative on their own and help the Thoothukudi district stadium emerge on a par with Madurai and Coimbatore, where many outstanding players contributed much to the pride to the stadia in those two districts, classified as ‘A’ grade, sources said.
The district stadium in Thoothukudi, where a multi-purpose indoor stadium at a cost of Rs 3 crore was dedicated in 2016, has a range of facilities for playing field games such as hockey, football and courts for volleyball, basketball and badminton, squash court and also provides room for track events.
Further, the district sports officer said a fund of Rs 16 crore had been sanctioned for laying down a synthetic athletics track on seven acres in the stadium.
Sources said with the existence of a sports hostel with 70 inmates, indoor sports attraction and office rooms, the stadium has three electricity service lines. With just a paltry sum of Rs 1,000 towards monthly maintenance, it is difficult to manage the stadium.