Sport in Bengaluru facing obstruction from modernization

Football Express

Public playgrounds in Bengaluru are shrinking with time. More and more sports enthusiasts are making a move towards artificial grounds. However, this shift comes at a cost. Reuben Varghese Kurien is an overseer of the Bangalore Football Turf in east Bengaluru’s Hennur. He stated that people are ready to pay for better facilities that offer safety.

Ashish Adhikari arrived in Bengaluru in 2018 following him landing a graphic designer job in the city. A lover of sports, one of the first things Adhikari looked for was a football ground. Everyone pointed the 26-year-old towards football turfs in the city. These turfs were good but playing there pinched his pocket.

Each game used to have around 10 people and the ground cost was ₹1,500 per hour. Every month, I ended up paying ₹900 for football and since I play badminton as well, my monthly expenses on the sport were around ₹1,700 per month,” said Adhikari.

He added that back home in Assam, playing sports didn’t cost anything.

He also says that a number of public grounds were always packed. The chances of injuries were high due to poor maintenance of the grounds. He stated that customers wanted flexibility – availability of a good-quality pitch at a convenient time.

Kurien informs of the existence of more than 100 such grounds in Bengaluru. There were a minimum of 90 already present when he launched his own one in 2016.

There are at least 100 people playing here every day,” he said.

Sport in Bengaluru does come at a high cost

Poor implementation of plans and policies have been a major contributor to Bengaluru’s shrinking public spaces and grounds. Ravindran DS, a former Indian Forest Service officer, conducted research on public spaces in Bangalore.

He concluded that over time, Bengaluru was showing an alarming reduction in the available public space, which includes playgrounds.

From having an 8m square per person in 1968, we have come down to around 1m square per person. It was a drastic drop. The built-up area in Bengaluru was around 71%, whereas it should have been 30%,” added the official.

Leo Saldana, a Bengaluru-based environmental activist, spoke about the impact of not having a healthy balance between open spaces and population. The trend was more visible during the recent lockdowns. Those living in congested neighbourhoods suffered more (because of lack of access to public spaces)“.

He went on to say that so far there was no such study on its impact. However, a good way to assess this impact was the Nimhans’ report on getting around 250 calls per day (lockdown) from distressed children.

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