Hyderabad: Indian women’s captain Mithali Raj, Olympic silver medallist shuttler PV Sindhu, triple Olympian hockey player Mukesh Kumar and tennis sensation Sania Mirza, to name a few, all have one thing in common. All of them had started playing at different GHMC centres and went on to earn name for the country.
The GHMC sports wing began operation 1955 as a recreational project. The empty spaces of land were converted into sports grounds. Over the years, these centres grew in numbers and now have become a centre for sporting activities in twin cities.
Summer camps, the brain-child of late L Venkatram Reddy, who was the then sports director of Municipal Corporation of Hyderabad (now GHMC), were mooted in the year 1968 now have become an annual affair catering to a huge population of the city.
This year will be special for the GHMC as they are celebrating the 50 years of its inception.
The first summer camps in 1968 witnessed 1400 boys and 200 girls with 15 coaches in six disciplines.
The Victory Playground and Ghoshamahal stadia have a special place in the history of GHMC as they were the centres of volleyball and football respectively. While Victory Playground was a epee centre for top volleyball players like T Gopal, Ms Radhika Reddy, Ghoshamahal saw the likes of Syed Abdul Rahim training the Indian players from the city like Peter Thangaraj, Azizuddin, Mohammed Abdul Sallam, Ahmed Hussain, T Balaram, Hamid and Mohammed Zulfikaruddin. Last year’s Arjuna award skater Anup Kumar Yama is also a product of a GHMC centre.
The interest among the kids towards sports in twin cities has grown multifold and the 2017 summer camps witnessed students over 15,000 at 2104 centres.
And the officials are expecting the number to reach over 20,000 this year.
“The GHMC has been providing the citizens with high-quality infrastructure. Not just the summer camps, we have year-long coaching programmes. There will be tournaments every month in various disciplines. Now, it is one of the major contributor for the success of the city,” said Premraj, Officer-on-Special Duty.
He further added that the GHMC is geared up for this year’s summer camps which are scheduled to start from next month. “There is a steep rise in demand for summer camps as well as coaching camps. So we are constructing eight more sports complexes to the additional 17 to meet the demand with an estimated cost of Rs 42 crore.
The equipment is also in good shape, so infrastructure is not a worry. We are geared up for this year as well and it will be prestigious for us as it is our 50th anniversary of summer camps,” he added. He further requested the people of twin cities to come out in large numbers and utilise the facilities to make the city a healthy place. When it comes to producing results for the State, the Telangana State Sports School (TSSS) accounts for a lion’s share. The school in Hakimpet has turned into a nurturing centre for producing top class athletes not just for the State but also for the country.
Located in a vast area of 206 acres on the outskirts of the city, the TSSS was set up in 1993 when the then Chief Minister of erstwhile Andhra Pradesh N Janaradhana Reddy laid the foundation for the concept after studying about the success of sports schools in Germany and other countries.
The school has produced two-time Olympian in G Satti Geetha, who represented the country in the 2004 and the 2008 Olympics in 4x400m relay event. It had the athletes like P Shankar who had won multiple medals at various Asian meets. The current lot of lifters _ Ragala Venkata Rahul, Varun, Erra Deexita _ and archer Manoj, 400m runner Srikanth and rower D Sairaju are continuing the legacy.
Athletes from the school have so far won 162 medals at the international level that includes 82 gold, 56 silver and 24 bronze medals. Since 2014, the athletes from the school have won 49 medals that comprise 27 gold, 14 silver and 5 bronze indicating the growing stature of its contribution. At the national level, the athletes have won as many as 2013 medals with 645 gold, 624 silver and 744 bronze medals. That is the reason the TSSS is currently the number one sports school in the country.
The success of the school is attributed to the tested success formula of ‘catch them young and train them right’. The school conducts selections in the fourth standard. About 40 students are selected every year and will be put in conditioning for two years to segregate them into different disciplines.
“Tapping the talent young is the key to success. Once we select the kids at the age of eight, they will be put in conditioning for two years and then they will be trained in different disciplines. The training will start in the third year. Our target is that the kid should be playing sub-junior for the State in next two years and in five years, he should be representing India,” said the OSD K Narasaiah.
The school now has 409 students with 223 boys and 186 girls. Training is given in 11 disciplines: archery, athletics, football, fencing, gymnastics, judo, water sports (rowing, sailing, kayaking and canoeing), sepak takraw, weightlifting and volleyball. It is equipped with a 70-membered staff with 24 coaches, 13 in academic departments and nine in administration.
“Our aim is to give a good citizen to the society. Every student who trains here is given training not just in sports and studies, we also have an extra subject on good behaviour and moral ethics. So when he goes out, he will be a disciplined citizen. We have two students, Addagiri Ramanjaneyulu and Guntu Kogula Pattabhi Sandeep, who scored over 900 marks in intermediate and won national medals,” Narasiah said.
The school has a hostel with 144 rooms, indoor stadium for gymnastics, 400 metre track, archery ground, football ground, weightlifting hall, volleyball ground and a conditioning hall.
“We have sent proposals to build an admin block, staff quarters, sports science block and swimming pool. We have asked for a synthetic track and we should get it soon,” he said.
However, with most of the equipment bought in for 2002 National Games, there is wear and tear while the weightlifters had complaints about the barbells and weights. But the OSD said that the equipment worth Rs 1 crore has been sanctioned and they would get new equipment by the next academic year. With no synthetic track in the campus, the athletes are sent to Gachibowli every fortnight for training and that was also one of the reasons for not producing many top-class athletes.
Athletics coach Aditya added, “We have Suguna who won gold in school nationals in long jump. She is in the Indian camp. Harikrishna (100m), Aravind (400m) and Bhagyalaxmi (800m)are going for a 10-day advanced coaching camp in England. And Srikanth has represented India in the World School Games. Srikanth is the only one from the State to win a medal in the Khelo India competitions for the State. We have less infrastructure in the State. We don’t have a synthetic track. If we get that and with a good diet we can produce much better results.”
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Nizamabad’s Malavath Purna scaled Mount Everest at the age of 13 years and 11 months to become the youngest girl to do so. Kumar says that the sport is an integral part of the school. He reveals on how they will focus on sports as part of school activities in the interview
On infrastructure in schools
All 268 schools in the State have play grounds. We don’t construct a school without a playground. In some schools we are setting up gymnasiums.
On new infrastructure
We have an indoor stadium coming up at Shaikpet in Golconda. We are also going to build a tennis court and swimming pool. We are going to have four cricket academies, two for girls and two for boys in Chilkur, Shadnagar, Wanaparthy and Medak. We are also going to start a sports school. The government has already sanctioned a government sports school in Eturnagaram. We have a lot of sports facilities coming up. We are also planning to convert one or two schools into the hub of contact sports like judo and wrestling. We are going to hire SAI-certified coaches.
Focus on sports in the school
Sport is one of the important domains on which we spend heavily. Whoever play sports, don’t get suicidal tendencies and they are very stable. They develop very good leadership qualities. The probability of succeeding in life is more. That’s why we ensure that all students play some or the other game. 30 per cent of our concentration is on sports.
On students’ interest in mountaineering
Every year we do outdoor activities in tribal places. Rock climbing and Advanced Mountaineering are the two important activities. Not only Purna, we have sent 10 students who scaled Mt Khilimanjaro, 10 students to Australia’s highest mountain. Purna and Anand are going to scale all the seven peaks of the world.
On plans for next year
Our focus is also on other sports as well. Chess is going to be one of the important games for us. Badminton is another which we are very curious about and showing much focus. Weightlifting is also one among them.