City anchor: Harbhajan wants to open academy in city, eyes Andheri Sports Complex

Monday

A day after making a comeback into the national Test side, offspinner Harbhajan Singh was found in the unlikely corridors of the Brihanmumbai Corporation (BMC). Bhajji showed up at the headquarters of the civic body Monday with a proposal to start a cricket academy in the city preferably at the Andheri Sports Complex.

The Rs 30-crore Andheri sports complex is run by the Greater Mumbai Sports & Cultural Trust, which is headed by the mayor and includes the municipal commissioner.

When contacted, Mayor Sunil Prabhu told The Indian Express, "The trust has received a proposal from Harbhajan Singh to set up a cricket academy on the Andheri Sports Complex premises. Children from all over the city will be attracted to come and train for the game if such a big name is associated with us. We also plan to form a cricket team of BMC school children who can be trained in this academy."

Harbhajan met Municipal Commissioner Sitaram Kunte and expressed an interest in training BMC schoolchildren for free at the proposed academy.

A senior civic official said, "He has also suggested that an academy could be started if an open plot is provided in the western suburbs. We cannot take a call until we get a comprehensive proposal specifying how many children will join his academy take every year, what are the fees, etc. Once we get that, the various departments involved will decide on the matter."

The Andheri Sports Complex was built in 1988 and has a top-class stadium for track-and-field events, a ground for football and hockey matches, badminton and tennis courts, an Olympic-sized swimming pool, and a hall for cultural activities. If the BMC approves the proposal, Bhajji will join his India teammates Virender Sehwag, Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Yuvraj Singh who have their own cricket academies.

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