India’s sports stadiums should be named after players, not political leaders

There are many stadiums named after Jawaharlal Nehru and Indira Gandhi. There are stadiums named after EMS Namboodiripad and Atal Bihari Vajpayee. Some time ago the stadium at Motera was renamed after Narendra Modiā€¦In Hyderabad we have the main cricket stadium in Uppal named after Rajiv Gandhi. The older one located at Basheerbagh is the Lal Bahadur Shastri stadium. There is the GMC Balayogi stadium in Gachibowli and also the Kotla Vijay Bhaskara Reddy indoor stadium.

The ICC T20 men’s World Cup is in progress and the USA, by virtue of being one of the host countries, is in focus. One thing that is not known to many sports fans in India is that the USA has the maximum number of sports stadiums named after its famous sportsmen. Most of their great basketball players, Olympic champions and baseball players have been honoured by having stadiums named after them.

In the West Indies there are several stadiums that are named after its cricketers. There is a stadium named after Viv Richards, one named after Darren Sammy, another after Brian Lara, one for Larry Gomes and The Three Ws Oval in Barbados named after the famous trio of Worrell, Weeks and Walcott.

In Australia there is the Allan Border Field and the Bradman Oval in his home town of Bowral. Sri Lanka has a stadium named after Muralitharan. In the city of Leicester in the UK there is a ground named after Sunil Gavaskar. But in India there are very few stadiums named after cricketers or for that matter any sportsman.

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Allan Border Field

Situation different in India

In India it is the politicians who are being honoured at the cost of sportsmen. In 2019, the historic Feroz Shah Kotla ground in New Delhi was renamed. It is now known as the Arun Jaitley stadium.

The Feroz Shah Kotla is a ground on which India has lost very few Test matches. On this ground Sunil Gavaskar scored his 29th Test century to equal Sir Don Bradman. Another noteworthy feat was Anil Kumble’s ten wickets in an innings against Pakistan. Sachin Tendulkar scored his 35th Test century on this ground. Many memorable feats have been achieved here. So, if it was going to be renamed, it would have been fitting to name it after any of these record breaking players instead of Arun Jaitley who was essentially a rightwing politician.

Sunil Gavaskar

Disappointing trend

Naming sports stadiums after politicians is a very disappointing trend that is prevalent in India. There are many stadiums named after Jawaharlal Nehru and Indira Gandhi. There are stadiums named after EMS Namboodiripad and Atal Bihari Vajpayee. Some time ago the stadium at Motera was renamed after Narendra Modi.

In Hyderabad, we have the main cricket stadium in Uppal named after Rajiv Gandhi. The older one located at Basheerbagh is the Lal Bahadur Shastri stadium. There is the GMC Balayogi stadium in Gachibowli and also the Kotla Vijay Bhaskara Reddy indoor stadium. When will a sportsman be honoured?

Ghulam Ahmed ignored

When the new cricket stadium was constructed in Uppal, it would have been fitting to have named it after Ghulam Ahmed who was the first Hyderabad player to lead the Indian team. Instead, it is named after Rajiv Gandhi. He may have been a Prime Minister but the question that arises is: what did he do for Hyderabad cricket that a stadium should bear his name?

Hyderabad cricket player Ghulam Ahmed

Rahim was unrewarded

And what about Syed Abdul Rahim, the man who was the most successful football coach in India’s history? Why has he been ignored in his home town? There is no structure, not even a small neighbourhood ground, that exists with his name. It would have been a fitting tribute to this great coach if a ground in Hyderabad had been named after him. If nothing else, at least a statue could have been erected at some prominent place.

Indian football coach Syed Abdul Rahim

How will the future generations of players know about our great stars of the past if there are no prominent structures bearing their name?

We constantly ignore our players but when they fail to win medals we ask why they cannot win as many medals as the USA or Germany or Britain. It is time for Indians to give our sports heroes the honour that they deserve. Our sports heritage should not be neglected. Instead it should be preserved and nurtured. It will inspire the youth and create more champions in the future.

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