Tiruchi’s sports infrastructure goes for a toss


Three major clubs that had excellent recreational facilities have been demolished

Aspiring sports persons and players of various disciplines are dejected over the decline in sports infrastructure with the demolition of three major clubs that had excellent infrastructure and recreational facilities in the city.

All the three clubs — City Club, Union Club and the Srirangam Club — were established during the pre-Independence period. They had served sports enthusiasts of Tiruchi for more than 100 years.

The Srirangam Club, which was located in the close vicinity of erstwhile Srirangam Municipality, was the first club in the city that was razed down by the officials of Tiruchi Corporation. The officials armed with an earthmover demolished the building and the infrastructure associated with it within a few hours about six years ago over a dispute with the Corporation and the Club management. Besides recreational facilities for the members, it had an indoor badminton court, a tennis court, a table tennis court and infrastructure for bridge.

City Club on West Boulevard Road was the second major club that was demolished. After winning a legal battle to claim ownership of about one acre of land, which was leased to the City Club in 1905, the Corporation officials razed down the heritage building and sports infrastructure such as tennis courts, badminton courts, a table tennis court in May 2019. The Corporation is now building a multi level car parking on the site.

Union Club on Bharathidasan Road was the last one to be demolished in the city. Claiming that the Club management failed to pay lease amount to the Government for the last 44 years, the Revenue officials, who visited the club premises about 10 days ago, pulled down a portion of a century old heritage building along with indoor sports infrastructure recreational facilities. While the members resisted the demolition move by stating that the Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court was seized off the dispute over the lease rent, the officials went ahead with the plan. They alleged that the officials served a February dated demolition notice just a day before the demolition.

The three demolitions have left sports lovers bewildered and dejected. Over 1,000 persons had been members of these three clubs. With the demolition of the infrastructure built with the voluntary contributions by many people over a period of time, the players and aspiring young talents have nowhere to go.

“Located in three different areas of the city, the clubs served the people well for several decades and helped develop sports culture among the people. Besides hosting international tournaments, the clubs have produced many national and some international players. But, it is unfortunate that the officials, by demolitions, have failed to acknowledge the importance of building a healthy society,” says S. Viswanathan, former Physical Director of the Bharathidasan University.

Many lamented that the officials should have made alternative arrangements to create sports infrastructure in the respective areas before initiating actions on the club.

“With the destruction of infrastructure we are running from pillar to post to engage ourselves in our favourite sports activities so as keep ourselves fit. Individuals can not afford to build such infrastructure by spending huge amount. The government and the Tiruchi Corporation should come out with an action plan to re-create sports facilities in all three places,” says R. Ramesh Kamak, treasurer, Union Club.

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