Team Tata

Published : Jul 04, 2008 00:00 IST

JAMSETJI NUSSERWANJI TATA wanted his son Sir Dorab Tata to reserve large areas for football, hockey and parks in his dream city.

Dorab, himself an ardent sportsman, fulfilled that dream in more ways than one. Thanks to his efforts, the sports infrastructure in Jamshedpur is among the finest in India, and half the users of these facilities are the citizens of Jamshedpur, not Tata employees.

Tata Steel is the only Indian company to invest in world-class sports facilities, to create academies and maintain and manage international-level sports arenas. Dorab sponsored the Indian contingent for the Antwerp Olympics in 1920 and, as president of the Indian Olympic Council, financed the Indian squad that went to the Paris Olympics in 1924.

Apart from the Keenan Stadium, which was inaugurated in 1939 and which hosts international cricket matches, there is the JRD Tata Sports Complex. Set up in 1991, it has an eight-lane synthetic athletic track and a seating capacity of 40,000. It also houses facilities for handball, tennis, volleyball, hockey, basketball, table tennis and boxing and has a modern gymnasium. In 1958, the Mohan Ahuja Indoor Stadium for Badminton was opened, and the following year, the Jamshedpur Sporting Association was established, which conducts football and hockey leagues.

The Tata Steel Adventure Foundation helps promote adventure sports. When Bachendri Pal, the first Indian woman to scale Mount Everest, made it to the peak, she hoisted, along with the Indian and the Nepalese flags, the Tata Steel banner. Bachendri Pal had for years been in charge of many of the facilities of the foundation, particularly mountaineering and trekking. Over 3,000 people enrol themselves in the foundation every year.

In 1987, the Tata Football Academy (TFA) was established. This was the first of its kind in the country, and all the coaches were trained in Sao Paulo in Brazil. The academy provides intensive training to its members. The fully residential programme offers board and lodging, monthly stipend, playing kits, summer and winter clothing, ceremonial kits, comprehensive medical care, education, a group insurance scheme and other benefits. Out of the 129 cadets who have been trained here, 105 have represented the country and 17 have captained the national teams.

In 1996, the Tata Archery Academy was inaugurated by J. J. Irani, then Managing Director of Tata Steel. Over the years, the academy has produced more than 20 national champions, and more than 40 international medals have been won by the cadets of the academy.

In May 2004, the Tata Athletics Academy was inaugurated by the legendary Milkha Singh. In three years, the academy produced several medal winners at various national meets. A notable star from the academy is Sinimole Paulose, who won a gold medal and a silver medal in the Asian Indoors Athletic Championship in 2006, and also a silver medal in the South Asian Federation Games in Colombo in 2006.

For children with disabilities, Tata Steel organises sporting events under the banner of Special Olympics, Jharkhand. The company sponsored the Indian team in the Special Olympics held in Dublin in 2003. Tata Steel also encourages school sports fitness programmes for the young.

Suhrid Sankar Chattopadhyay
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