Shimla: The picturesque stadium in Dharamshala has already put Himachal Pradesh on the international cricket map and state association President Anurag Thakur says the HPCA is now planning to build stadiums in each of the 12 districts of the hill state.Anurag, who became the youngest president of the Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association at the age of 25, said the HPCA was dealing with paucity of funds and numerous other challenges when he first took over.”When I became the president of HPCA in 2000, I was very young and I had a lot of challenges ahead. Himachal had never won a Ranji match and the annual budget used to be Rs 20 lakh. I started arranging funds and in the last 10 years, the budget has gone up to Rs 20 crore,” the MP from Hamirpur told reporters.
“We started providing good facilities, infrastructure and coaches to the players and soon the team which never used to win, won the Ranji trophy plate championship in 2005, which was very satisfying,” he added.
Mastermind of the Himachal Pradesh Twenty20 Mahasangram, which has been recognised by the Guinness world records as the world`s largest cricket tournament, Anurag said the idea behind having such a tournament was to discover new talent and make the state a cricketing powerhouse.”We had this challenge of getting a regular inflow of talented players from the state and for that we started district level tournaments in a league format. But we thought that in remote areas there are many who don`t get an option to play cricket. So the idea was to bring all this unorganized talent under the banner of Himachal Pradesh cricket association,” he said.”This tournament has a budget of Rs 80-90 lakh and roughly 1400 teams and 16,000 players will be playing, which is huge. Through this tournament, we will look to tap talent and give a boost to the sport,” he added.
Son of Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal, Anurag said the HPCA intends to spend around Rs 60 crore on building 12 multi-sport stadiums in Himachal Pradesh but adds it will be challenging.
“We have built the Dharamshala stadium by spending Rs 50 crore. We have started building 12 stadiums, one in each district, where we will be spending around Rs 5 crore for facilities of cricket and also other sports like volleyball, basketball, kho kho, weightlifting, taekwando, so we will be spending around Rs 60 crore. We have already built stadiums in Bilaspur, Nadaun and three more are in process,” he said.”But the problem is most of Himachal is forest area, so it takes a lot of time to get the approval. The state government is very keen in giving us the land. After the hosting of the two IPL games, it has given us a big boost and we are now looking at sport tourism as well,” he said.