Lawrence Saldanha, a non-resident entrepreneur hailing from Eliyal in the Udupi district of Karnataka, went to West Asia 34 years ago, but has never lost touch with it. He always wanted to encourage sports and provide modern facilities in the rural areas. He has now begun to construct a multi-purpose stadium in Kowdoor, just some 25 km from Udupi, at a cost of Rs. 20 million (Rs. 2 crores). He has recognized the concern that the younger generation of in and around his native village is lacking adequate infrastructure for the development of sporting talent.
Mr.Saldanha, who runs small business in Kuwait, says that it was his faith in the sporting abilities of rural children that prompted him to take up this project.
“There are no modern sports facilities in the rural areas. Children and youth in urban areas get all modern facilities. I want the children and youth in rural areas, especially my native village and surrounding villages to enjoy same facility."
The stadium will have facilities such as a cricket pitch, 400-metre track, 500-capacity spacious pavilion, 500 seating capacity in the spectator galleries, 10 rooms behind the pavilion to accommodate athletes and other related facilities. Mr. Saldanha has built the stadium on his ancestral land. “I did not have to pay for the land. I only had to invest about Rs. 2 crore for the stadium. I have not taken any government support. But if the government offers any support, I will consider it,” he said.
In addition to this project Saldanha wants to develop another 1.5 acres of land nearby as a volleyball court and basketball court.
About 12 years back, Mr. Saldanha had also constructed an English medium school here and then gave it to an organisation to run it. “My intention behind the school and the stadium is to prevent migration of people from rural to urban areas. My village now has a quarter of the population compared to what it had when I was young".
A full-fledged stadium in the name of 'Late Eliyal P M Saldanha Memorial Kowdoor Stadium' is all set to be thrown open to the public on January 9, 2016 with a two-day inaugural sports event. The people of area are naturally elated with the stadium and a cricket tournament will be held to mark the inauguration, and will be an annual event posts that.