School students in Delhi will be able to resume training in the stadiums and sports complexes run by Directorate of Education (DoE), following the Delhi government coming up with standard operating procedures for resumption of sports.
The DoE’s sports branch operates three stadiums — Chhatrasal, Thyagaraj and Bawana– and 32 sports complexes, including the ones in East Vinod Nagar, Ludlow Castle, Najafgarh, Mundhela Kalan, among others. These sports facilities were shut since March in view of the nationwide lockdown to stem the spread of the coronavirus disease.
Dharmender Singh, Deputy Director of Education (Sports), said the Bawana stadium will not be used for sports training immediately. “The Bawana stadium is currently under the District Magistrate concerned so we will not be able to resume sports activities there. But we are ready to start sports training at the other two stadiums and sports complexes. We have already issued the SoPs, we have also procured masks and equipment to sanitise the premises. Formally, the stadiums and sports complexes are open now, he said.
These sports facilities are mostly used by school students and private academies, clubs and coaches. DoE officials said more than 5,000 sportspersons, majority of them students from both government and private schools, were enrolled for training in these stadiums and complexes till March.
According to the SoPs, the sports activities will resume in three phases, with only 5-10 people being allowed initially. It will be followed by larger groups and then full training by teams and sports competitions. “The SOPs have been made to ensure that sportspersons can utilise the facilities without compromising the health of the users as well as the community at large,” the SoPs stated.
Depending on the extent of physical contact during the training, sports have been divided into three categories. For instance, in sports where there is minimal contact such as archery, shooting, cycling and athletics, there should be a social distance of 1.5 to 2 metres between the players and the staff, as per the rules.
For football, volleyball, hockey and basketball there can a limited physical contact, sharing of equipment and a maximum of three can train together. The pitch will also be divided in three to four parts for different groups. “The players will stick to their groups in order to avoid spread of infection, in case anyone is tested positive for Covid-19,” the SoPs state.
For maximum contact sports such as boxing, judo, wrestling and karate, the SoPs advise use of punching bags, sacks and choke dummies instead. Sharing of personal equipment has also been prohibited. However, the equipment which are bound to be shared will be sanitised after every use.
The facilities are now open between 6.30am to 9.30am and 4.30pm to 7.30pm for all students above 10 years and private academies and coaches. “All those visiting the centres will be screened. There shall be a proper sanitising equipment at the main entrance. A written confirmation shall be submitted before entering the premises by every sportsperson declaring their Covid-19 symptom-free condition,” the SoPs stated.
On being asked about the rules on wearing face masks during training, Singh said, “It will not be possible for the sportsperson to wear masks while training. It will affect their training.However, it’s mandatory to wear face masks at all times when a person is not playing/training. That’s why we have issued strict norms on maintaining physical distance.”
Several teachers said that the resumption of sports activities was required since students and sportspersons have lost precious training time due to lockdown. Ajay Veer Singh, a physical education and sports teacher at a government school in Jhandewalan, said, “It’s been over three months that our students have not had any sports training. We are really excited to welcome them back on the field. However, it will be challenging to adhere to all the rules and regulations amid the pandemic. We will also prepare diet charts to boost their immunity in view of the prevalent situation.”