The success of sporting events is due in large part to State government support and encouragement.
Tamil Nadu has excelled in infrastructure, finance, and coordination with national federations and other State associations, resulting in successful events such as the Chess Olympiad (July–August 2022), the Squash World Cup (June 2023), and the recently concluded Asian Champions Trophy hockey tournament at Mayor Radhakrishnan Stadium in Chennai.
Atulya Misra, the TN Sports Secretary, is well-versed in the sporting landscape of the state, having been a Member Secretary of the Sports Development Authority of Tamil Nadu in 2007.
When asked about the learnings from the Asian Champions Trophy hockey tournament, Misra said, “Learning is a process. We keep learning every day,” he said in a conversation with Sportstar.
“Without the State government being an active partner, no sporting event can be done because there is crowd management and revamping of the city and stadium. We did the ‘Pass the Ball trophy tour’ event in many districts, which promoted the sport of hockey in a big way.”
Misra said Chennai has become a preferred sports destination. “If there is a clear political executive will that it wants to do and wants to do it fairly, everything else will fall into place. When we take up an event, no stone will be left unturned. Now, many national federations want to do their events in Chennai. It has become their favourite place. They know that if the State government decides to take up an event, its machinery will work in one direction with complete coordination.”
Misra, a man with varied experience, also realised that holding a sports event would have an impact beyond the boundaries of the stadium.
“When you do an event like this [the Asian Champions Trophy], it is not just sports. You can make it much better. You could make it a ‘drive against drugs’. For us, the turf imported from Germany was carbon-free and bio-sustainable,” he said.
According to the IAS officer, stadiums should keep hosting events—international, national, or State-level—periodically, lest they go to waste. “If we don’t do events, the mega stadiums we have created will go into disuse. If we periodically have big tournaments, stadiums are revamped and repaired,” he said.
“Things happen when State associations, national federations, and State governments work seamlessly without any confusion or personality conflict,” he said.
However, Misra added a caveat. “Ultimately, the games don’t belong to the government; they belong to the associations and national federations. Governments, at best, can be facilitators. Let’s be straight about it,” he said.
The MOU signed between the Tamil Nadu and Odisha governments was a game changer, said Misra. “The visit of Mr. Udhayanidhi Stalin, Sports Minister, to Rourkela to visit the Birsa Munda Hockey Stadium led to the MOU being signed.
“It meant we didn’t have to reinvent the wheels from scratch. The layout and architecture of Bisra Munda Stadium were well set. We had to follow it with some tweaks to suit our specifications,” he said.
Misra heaped praise on Hockey India, the Hockey Unit of Tamil Nadu, and the Sports Development Authority of Tamil Nadu for working day and night to make the tournament a roaring success.
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