Friday, Jul 04, 2003
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By M.C. Raman
The Thai capital has earned the reputation of being the substitute venue for Asian Games. It can stage the big show without any problem whatsoever if the original bidder backs out.
Such is its record and it has the top slot in sports organisation in Asia. Even India cannot boast of such a track record, despite being the `economic super power' of this continent.
What makes Thailand such a destination for major and World-level competitions? Its dynamism and its ability to create such fantastic infrastructure throughout the country. While travelling in the bus for practice session at the main stadium the Indian coach G.E. Sridharan said "I have been to this country as a player and coach for so long I can say that they are just fantastic. Even if you go 700 kms away from Bangkok you will find the same neat roads, compact indoor stadiums of international specifications in various colleges and the commitment to conduct such big events to show others that they are the best.''
Thailand does not need the massive and marvellous indoor stadiums like in Delhi, Hyderabad, Chennai and many of them in Kerala. But its aim is to have compact infrastructure like the one in which the Indian team practised in hot conditions as the air-conditioner was not on. And the army barracks-like structure made it difficult for the players and the Indian coach wanted to take up the issue with the organisers.
He says even the FIVB is specific that for events like Asian and World championships the air-conditioner must be on even for practices. The weather here is not as hot as in Chennai, but it is hot during day time. And there was a sharp shower in the evening.
In the last five years Thailand has staged eight or nine World-level and Asian-level tournaments, particularly for women and the juniors like this one. And now the country is bidding for the Super League of the men's $15 million World League next year. Such things are unthinkable in India.
In fact, India's last major World-level commitment was five years ago when the Volleyball Federation of India hosted a portion of the women's World Grand Prix in which Russia, Italy, Cuba and Korea played and the budget was about Rs. one crore.
In fact, the VFI Secretary K. Murugan is trying to bid for a portion of men's World League, but he is worried about the Rs. two crore budget. Even the Asian Youth boys championship which India won in Visakhapantam was successful because of the magnanimity of the Andhra Government and Vizag Port Trust. Thailand's greatest advantage is that one sport cannot corner the cream of country's sponsorship.
This is a problem that India is burdened with, but the Indian junior teams are doing exceedingly well by qualifying for the World championship.
India has made one change in the team that won the title at Visakhapatnam. As libero Satish was shaky in taking first pass he was dropped and Kulwant of Delhi has taken his place. Tall Ginsen Varghese of Kerala has been added to improve the net defence.
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