“The Rajagiri Public School has built a beautiful indoor stadium,” said Chief Minister Oommen Chandy while inaugurating the Rajagiri Sports and Cultural Centre (RSCC) at Kalamaserry on Saturday, February 1.
Undoubtedly, the RSCC is an awe-inspiring achievement. There are six badminton courts. The school has followed the World Badminton Federation specification of having maple wooden flooring. Apart from the badminton courts, there is a playing area for 12 table tennis games which can be held simultaneously. The total court area is 20,000 sq. ft. And to watch all the action, the gallery has 1385 seats, apart from the seats on the ground which number 2000.
The other amenities include changing rooms, dormitories, a gymnasium, and a room for coaches. There is also a training centre for Fine Arts and Performing Arts, mini auditoriums for soft-skill training and audio visual presentations, accommodation for guests and officials, a book and stationery shop, a cafeteria, and a medical clinic.
The school has adopted an eco-friendly approach. The overhead lights emit almost zero per cent heat, thus consuming far less energy. “To contain the heat and to arrest sound vibrations from the roof, rock wool bags have been placed above the false ceiling,” said Mathew. “As for the roof, we have used Space Frame Technology which is usually seen in airports.” The overall cost for all this: Rs 12 crore.
It was Fr. Austin Mulerickal, the former Director of the school, who came up with the idea in the first place. “Prior to this, Fr. Austin had set up the much acclaimed kindergarten, as well as the swimming academy,” says Mathew B. Kurian, former president of the Parent-Teacher Association (PTA). “When the history of the school is written, when our youngsters bring laurels to the school and, hopefully, to the state and country, Fr. Austin will get the recognition that he deserves.”
Undoubtedly, there has been a lot of hard work behind the scenes to bring it to reality.
“It has taken five years to build this stadium,” said Carmelite of Mary Immaculate Provincial and school manager Fr. Jose Alex Oruthayapilly. “Many parents, as well as the management, worked day and night to make this one of the best indoor stadiums.”
Among the parents, there was a small group that worked tirelessly. “They are Jortin Antony, K.P. Roy, Sony Madathil, Sunny Varghese, Sam Thomas and Tanuja Omanakuttan,” said Susan Varghese Cherian, the principal. “Thanks to the guidance of the school director Fr. Jijo Kadavan, the dream became a reality.”
There was a reason to set up the stadium. “The school has always put an emphasis on the holistic development of the child – through academics, cultural and sports activities,” said Fr. Kadavan.
U Vimal Kumar, the former chief coach of the Indian badminton team, who represented the country for 12 years, said that it is one of the few schools in the country which has this facility. “The students are lucky to have such excellent amenities,” he said. “The RSCC can become a nursery for champions.”
Jortin Antony, PTA president, acknowledged that the aim is to produce world-class players. “We can easily earn revenue by hiring out this beautiful hall for meetings and film shootings, but we will not do that,” he said.
Meanwhile, the school has notched up other achievements, like the I-share programme, in which each student contributes Rs 1 per month to help the less fortunate. In five years, the I-Share concept has been adopted by 22 schools, totalling 25,000 students. Students have so far contributed Rs 96,28,842.
“The I-Share fund has helped build science labs and libraries, bus stands, supported the education of Adivasi children, provided improved facilities for cancer and haemophilia-afflicted patients, helped aged people, and aided the education of deaf and mute people,” said school leader Arshad Mohammed in a rousing speech during the inauguration ceremony.
And he gave the reasons behind the idea. “Statistically, about 30% of our countrymen are below the poverty line,” said Arshad. “Malnourishment, lack of infrastructure and illiteracy hamper our nation’s progress. If someone tells us that one school can start a fire that would light up the lives of thousands of people, would you believe it? Today, we can, as the I-Share programme is living proof of that hope.”
When it was the time for famed playback singer MG Sreekumar to speak, he lauded Arshad's speech. Sreekumar also gave an entertaining talk about his struggles and triumphs and said that in the institution that he studied in, the Model school in Thiruvananthapuram had no such facilities. But he also had a telling point to make. “While the State sets aside a lot of money to encourage sports, they should also give money for the arts,” he said. “All students should learn a musical instrument or participate in the arts.”
Later, the packed audience of parents and students enjoyed the engrossing two-game badminton match between some of India's current and former players like Ajit Vijay Tilak, K. A. Aneesh, Jaseel P Ismail, Jaison Xavier and Joy T. Antony. In fact, in one rally, more than 40 shots were hit.
The evening ended with a well-choreographed two-hour cultural programme of song, dance and drama by the students. For Rajagiri School, there was plenty to be proud about.
(The New Indian Express, Kochi)