B'lore gets artificial turf

The turf, which has been the talk of the town for many months now, was opened by Kushal Das, the general secretary of the All India Football Federation.

“Artificial turf was a big necessity. So we are glad that it is now ready for use,” AR Khaleel, president of the Karnataka State Football Association, said.

“I think it is an important day for Bangalore and Karnataka. This is exactly something that football here needs,” Das said.

The AIFF had announced a major rebuilding plan for football stadiums in India a few months back and Khaleel, giving details, said once it is approved, the eastern wing of the Bangalore Football Stadium will be demolished and will be rebuilt as it was structurally unsound.

“Mukesh Ambani’s IMG-Reliance and the Jindal group have come forward to rebuild three stadiums in India and bring them to international standards. The stadiums will be reconstructed in Bangalore, Mumbai and Kolkata and each project will cost around Rs 100 crore. Once the Bangalore stadium is rebuilt, it will have a capacity of about 40,000,” Khaleel said.

The AIFF Academy is also taking shape at the Football Stadium and Das said this academy and the one in Sikkim will help lift the sport’s standards.“We are looking at building robust technical programmes. We have taken the help of German company Touch, who will help us in setting up a world class developmental programme,” Das said.

“We consider these academies as pivotal centres that will help in the overall development of Indian football,” he added.

The academies are expected to be functional in two-three months.Meanwhile, Khaleel said he had directed the Bangalore District Football Association officials to reduce the number of teams in the Super and ‘A’ Division leagues, so as to maintain the quality of football. The local league is set to begin on May 23 on the new turf while Hindustan Aeronautics Sports Club, struggling to avoid relegation, will play host to East Benal in the I-League match here on May 28.

The turf’s inauguration was followed by a friendly match between KSFA Veterans XI and Bangalore Media XI. The 30-minute game was won by the KSFA Veterans 3-0.

Footballing legends of the country, who are either hailing from Bangalore or based here, were then felicitated by the KSFA. Olympians Ahmed Khan, KV Varadaraj and Ahmed Hussain besides Asian Games stars Ethiraj, Arumainagayam, D Nataraj and K Sampath were honoured.

Ahmed Khan was part of the Indian team at the 1948 and 52 Olympic Games besides turning out for the 1951 Asiad gold-winning team. Varadaraj also played in 1948 and 52 Olympics while Ahmed Hussain represented the country at the 1956 Melbourne Olympics. Ethiraj and Arumanayagam was there when India won the 1962 Asiad gold medal while Nataraj and Sampath palyed for India in the 1970 Asian Games bronze-winning squad.

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