news Monday, July 20, 2015 - 05:30
A blog in the Kochi edition of The Times Of India on Monday, written by an Indian Hockey goalkeeper and vice-captain of the national team PR Sreejesh player would seem out of place, but it posed a pertinent question. Why are sports stadiums across the country mostly named after politicians, and not after athletes from the concerned sport? Sreejesh’s view comes in the context of the Kochi development authorities’ plans to rename a stand in the Jawaharlal Nehru International stadium after former Kerala CM K Karunakaran. The 27-year-old writes that other venues cannot match the “high” of playing at the Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium in New Delhi, named after the legendary hockey player who was admired even by Hitler at the time. The News Minute spoke to several veterans in their respective fields, to ask them what they thought of the snubbing that sportspersons get at the behest of politicians, and if stadia in the country should be named after athletes. Anju Bobby George (former track-and-field athlete, Olympian): I personally think that stadiums should be named after sportspersons, as it is their domain. It is nice to see the country giving something back after you achieve medals for it. I have nothing against politicians, but this is our area of expertise. Ashwini Nachappa (former athlete, Arjuna Award recipient): I completely agree with what Sreejesh has said and yes, the naming is all politically-motivated. At the end of it, the nomenclature depends on the government and party in power at the time. But we are a-political people and this should be done according to the merit of athletes. V Baskaran (former India Hockey captain, Arjuna Award recipient): Why not? I have been saying this for the past twenty years. If a stadium is named, why not after an Olympian or a senior sportsperson from the state? I do not think that there is a government policy in place which dictates terms in this matter. Also, while I endorse Sreejesh’s view, I also believe that these names should come up from other sports too, and not just cricket. What George, Nachappa, Baskaran and earlier Sreejesh refer to, comes in the form of icons that young players seek to emulate. Here are some of the stadiums in India- Chinnaswamy (Former BCCI President) stadium in Bengaluru, Chidambaram (former BCCI president) stadium in Chennai, Eden Gardens in Kolkata, Feroz Shah Kotla stadium in Delhi and Sawai Man Singh (Maharajah of Jaipur) stadium in Jaipur. As the list shows, very few or no stadiums have been named after sports persons. The Wankhede stadium in Mumbai has stands named after former cricketers like Sachin Tendulkar, Sunil Gavaskar, Vijay Merchant, Vinoo Mankad, Polly Umrigar and Vijay Manjrekar.  Sreejesh says in his blog, "For a start, giving names of our legendary footballers to the stands in the stadium would be most appropriate. If I was given a choice, I would name a stand after former India captain V P Sathyan first."  Examples can be sought from Europe, where several football clubs take pride in naming stadia after former players who brought glory to their teams. Footballing giants Real Madrid of Spain call their stadium the Santiago Bernabeu after one of their greatest players who wore the Los Blancos jersey in the early part of the 20th century. The two biggest clubs from Italy, both from Milan, share a stadium which is commonly referred to as the San Siro. Its real name however is Stadio Giuseppe Meazza, named after the legendary forward who turned out for both Internazionale and AC Milan. Why this is done is because younger players aspire to, or become the name they see in bold, emblazoned on the stands.  
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