Sports academies resume play
But the turnout remains low, and some are struggling with rent and other expenses
Sports activities, both professional and recreational, came to a halt during the lockdown to contain the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. This unforeseen crisis affected the finances of the several sports academies in the city.
However, with the easing of restrictions, a semblance of normalcy has returned. Academies are not running anywhere near full capacity yet, but beleaguered administrators are happy to see some light after a long period of darkness.
Indian Davis Cup coach Zeeshan Ali, who runs the Zeeshan Ali Tennis Academy on Sarjapur Road, said, “Less than 10% of the children have come back to the academy. Only those seriously pursuing the sport have returned. I am grateful that we have at least re-started operations. Getting a chance to be on the court and resume work is something I am grateful for. In terms of revenue and business, it’s absolutely not feasible. Last year, I had 12 coaches. Now, I have just two. We have stopped our residential program.”
Zeeshan explained that until schools reopen fully, the turnout at his academy will continue to be low. “For someone who is 13 or 14, and has played tennis for seven to eight years, to lose a year is tough. They are losing time,” he said.
The Karnataka Institute of Cricket (KIOC), which counts Manish Pandey, K. Gowtham and several other big names as its alumni, is slowly coming back to life. Irfan Sait, Director, KIOC, is cautiously optimistic.
“Around 35% of our wards are back. It is a huge improvement over the dark times when our gates were shut. While our senior players have been very keen to return, some parents are not comfortable with their young children returning,” he said.
To help compensate for the heavy losses suffered during the lockdown, he has had to make some tough decisions. “We had to reduce our staff. We had 12 groundsmen; now we have five. We had to let go of some of our hostel and office staff. We have also cut costs by being careful with electricity usage and so on,” he added.
The Champions Table Tennis Center, however, has not been able to re-start operations. The centre, established by Anjana Rao in the Transcend Group of Institutions campus in Jarganahalli, was forced to vacate the premises.
“We were unable to pay rent. We were hoping for some concession on rent, but it did not happen. We are looking for a new venue. I have received a lot of calls from parents who are keen to send their children to our table tennis camp. That is encouraging. We have two or three possible new venues in mind. So hopefully, we can get re-started soon,” she said.