Lusofonia Games: Goa ready to race against time

The Sports Minister, Mr Ramesh Tawadkar on Friday asserted that Goa will live up to the challenge of hosting the 3rd edition of Lusofonia Games, scheduled to be held from November 2-10, 2013, despite the stringent deadlines the state faces in terms of fulfilling the infrastructural demands for the ACOLOP sporting extravaganza.

Speaking at the ‘Meet the Press’ event organized by the SJAG at a city hotel here, Mr Tawadkar said the state government is committed towards hosting the Lusofonia Games next November and that all the stakeholders had total backing of the Chief Minister, Mr Manohar Parrikar who is very keen on ensuring that Goa sets the right organizational standards for this international sporting event.

The Sports Minister said it is a matter of great pride and prestige that Goa (India) has been awarded the hosting rights by ACOLOP for the 3rd edition of Lusofonia Games and that all agencies and personnel involved in ensuring that the Games are conducted smoothly will leave no stone unturned to make the event a grand success.

Sports Secretary, Mr Keshav Chandra said that the country’s pride is at stake as Lusofonia Games are coming to India, although it will be Goa which will be hosting the event.

"Yes. there is a big time constraint, but we are gearing up to meet all the deadlines and ensure that Goa is ready in all respects at least a couple of months in advance," Mr Chandra said explaining that the biggest handicap, prior to winning the trust of the ACOLOP, remained the infrastructure preparedness of the state for hosting a major event like Lusofonia Games.

"Once the ACOLOP gave Goa the go-ahead recently during our meeting in Lisbon, we were determined to honour the commitment as the country’s pride was at stake," thundered Mr Chandra assuring that Goa will be ready in all respects before the kick off date of November 2, 2013. Teams are expected to reach the state at least 3-4 days in advance.

Mr Chandra mentioned that the Fatorda stadium renovation has already started as this venue will host the football matches and will also host the opening and closing ceremony of the Games.

Divulging further, the Sports Secretary informed that Bambolim will be the venue for athletic stadium while indoor stadiums for volleyball, basketball and contact sports will be raised at Goa University. Mira Mar will host beach volleyball while Peddem’s existing stadium will be transformed into a training venue for athletes and a new stadium there will host contact sports events. A synthetic training track for athletes will also come up at Peddem at least a couple of months ahead of the Lusofonia Games, Mr Chandra added.

"There is no doubt that Goa will be racing against time and that every aspect of organising the Games will be taken up on a war footing keeping in best interest of the public money. The state is gearing up for the Games and we will leave no stone unturned to ensure that deadlines are met at all costs," Mr Keshav Chandra remarked dispelling apprehensions as to whether Games will actually be held in Goa.

Speaking further, Mr Chandra pointed out that besides raising the necessary international standard infrastructure; arrangements are being made to ensure that the "soft aspect" of the Games is also taken care of as the event is multi-disciplinary in nature.

Mr Chandra disclosed that though the state needed to tackle 31 Functional Areas when it came to organizational aspects, the same were now clubbed into 14 essential functional areas with each area set to be handled by an independent officer.

According to Mr Chandra following are the 14 key functional areas that have been chalked out for smooth conduct of the Lusofonia Games, with the timelines laid out and each functional area set to get operational by November end in order to meet the deadlines: Areas – Accommodation; Accreditation; Finance & Accounts; Co-ordination in Govt Relations; Transport; Ceremony; Venue Development and Venue Operations; Communications; Security; Medical; Technology; Office Administration and Actual Sports-Federation.

With the Goa Olympic Association (GOA) coordinating the team preparation for nine Lusofonia disciplines, with some associations already initiating the same at Mapusa, Ponda, Margao, GOA general secretary, Mr Gurudatta Bhakta said sports associations have already announced their probables and will conduct the trials and preparations for the next 3-4 months before trimming down the list.

"There are plans to included India athletes to represent Goa team at the Lusofonia Games to strengthen medal prospects. Right now we are planning to allow 50% representation of India athletes into Goan teams," disclosed Mr Bhakta while addressing the media.

The GOA secretary said he was aware of the fact that barring taekwondo, no other discipline had won Goa medals in the two previous editions of the Games held in Macau and Lisbon.

"Goa being the host would definitely want to improve upon its medal count and stage an impressive performance in most disciplines at the Lusofonia Games," maintained Mr Bhakta.

The SAG, led by their result-oriented executive director, Mr Elvis Gomes has promised all the help needed by GOA and the state associations, to prepare a strong Goan contingent capable of matching the best international athletes, who could win laurels for this tiny state.

"The SAG has already conducted three meetings with various associations involved in Lusofonia preparation. We have assured them of all help in terms of providing nutrition, kits and various other necessities that are required in conducting the training programmes for the probables," Mr Gomes noted.

"As teams zero in on their final list of players the SAG will also provide athletes training facilities out of Goa for indoor sports like volleyball and basketball," Mr Gomes pointed out. He added that a blueprint of teams’ preparations is expected in the next three months, which will give SAG and GOA a fair idea as to where the state’s preparation is headed. "Goa expects to field the best teams possible in every discipline," Mr Gomes summed up. [NT]