Panel at Sportstar Aces Awards: Sustainable sports infrastructure essential

Qatar’s Khalid Al Naama, Udit Sheth of TransStadia; former table tennis star Vasanth Bharadwaj and Deep Mukherjee of the CII National Committee on Sports engaged in a lively discussion moderated by Gaurav Kalra.

Creating sustainable sporting infrastructure was the central theme at the Sportstar Aces Awards supported by Supreme Committee of Delivery and Legacy, in association with MRF  here on Thursday. Khalid Al Naama, media head of Asia region for FIFA World Cup 2022 in Qatar; Udit Sheth, founder and managing director, TransStadia; Vasanth Bharadwaj, co-founder of Tenvic Sports and a former table tennis star; and Deep Mukherjee, chief executive officer of the CII National Committee on Sports, engaged in a lively discussion moderated by Gaurav Kalra, group editor (sports) at Network18.

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“The Al Rayyan Stadium is very unique. It’s very sustainable and environment-friendly. It was built on the site of an old stadium (Ahmed bin Ali) and we recycled 90 per cent of the material from the previous structure. After the World Cup, the stadium will be used by the Al-Rayyan football club,” said Al Naama.

Sheth noted that a stadium was more than just a sporting venue. “A stadium is an iconic city centre. It’s about preparing and having plans. With our dense population, we can turn all our stadia into iconic city centres. How to get stadia utilised for more than just football, how to make the experience sustainable, that's what we need to focus on,” he said.

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Bharadwaj spoke of the role technology could play. “A lot of legacy infrastructure in India is vastly underutilised,” he said. “The way forward is to enrich spectator experience. Virtual reality and immersive experiences are not far off.”

As Al Naama spoke of Qatar’s air-conditioned stadia, Kalra wondered how many overs Jasprit Bumrah could bowl in a day in such a setting, drawing chuckles from the audience.