India’s sports ministry to name SAI facilities after eminent sportspersons

The decision was taken to honour the past heroes of Indian sports as well as to inspire the future generations.

By Utathya Nag ·

India’s Sports Ministry, on Sunday, said that all upgraded and upcoming Sports Authority of India (SAI) facilities will be named after athletes who have made the nation proud on the global stage.

The initiative is a bid to honour the athletes who have brought glory to India and recognise their impact on shaping the sports culture in the country.

“It is important that our sportspersons get the honour that they deserve, because only then will the younger generations be enthused to take up sport as a career,” India’s sports minister Kiren Rijiju said.

“Acknowledging their contribution to sports by naming sporting facilities after them is yet another endeavour of the government to strengthen its commitment to sportspersons,” Rijiju added.

While the government hasn’t revealed exact names yet, the first leg will see a number of facilities, like the newly built air-conditioned wrestling hall and the learners swimming pool in the National Centre of Excellence (NCOE) in Lucknow, a 100-bed hostel in NCOE Bhopal, named after prominent athletes.

The multipurpose hall and girls’ hostel in NCOE Sonepat as well as the new SAI Training Centre in Guwahati, which has a hostel, multipurpose hall and staff quarters, are also in line.

A very common trend globally, naming sporting facilities and venues after sportspersons has been a rare trend in India.

Despite being the most popular sport in the country, cricket is yet to get a venue named after an Indian cricketer. The likes of Sunil Gavaskar, Sachin Tendulkar, MS Dhoni, Virat Kohli, Virender Sehwag, Rahul Dravid and a few others, however, have pavilions or gates named after them at different venues.

Same was the case with football until a newly-constructed stadium in Namchi, Sikkim, was named after the legendary Bhaichung Bhutia last year.

Hockey, though, has led the way.

The National Stadium in Delhi was renamed after hockey wizard Dhyan Chand in 2002. Photo: Ashok Kumar

Lucknow’s KD Singh Babu Stadium and Gwalior’s Captain Roop Singh Stadium, both named after former hockey greats, were some early examples. The National Hockey Stadium in New Delhi, too, was renamed after hockey wizard Major Dhyan Chand in 2002.