FIFA delegates kick off plans for artificial turf

Work on training centre in City to begin in second half of October


ARTIFICIAL! FIFA delegates Dr Eric Harrison (left) and Chrysantha Perera (right) inspect the Bangalore Football Stadium on Thursday in the company of KSFA president AR Khaleel. DH Photo

In a bid to kick start the Goal India Project 2 -- that includes a training centre with medical and gym facilities -- FIFA delegates Dr Eric Harrison and Chrysantha Perera visited the stadium on Wednesday to assess the situation.

“It is FIFA president Sepp Blatter’s dream to boost the growth of football in developing countries and one way of doing it is to lay artificial turfs, thereby providing an ideal playing field,” said Harrison, a consultant in the FIFA Goal programme. “India is one of the countries under that radar and with such a large demography there has to be a large number of playing fields. Apart from Bangalore, artificial turfs will be installed in Mumbai, Shillong, Imphal and Phagwara,” added Harrison.

Harrison said the significance of artificial turf is durability. “While natural turf can hold 300 hours of football, artificial turf can sustain approximately 3000 hours. Moreover, they can be used all year round and is resistant to adverse weather patterns.”

While artificial turf does boast of a lot of advantages, it has been at the receiving end of several criticisms including risk of injuries to players and the game getting slowed down. However, Harrison countered these, saying research had backed the arificial turfs.

“FIFA is very conscious about player safety and quality of football produced. After going through various media reports, FIFA hired Pro Zone to do a video analysis in order to draw a comparison between games played on natural and artificial turfs. Of the 100 games analysed -- 50 artificial and 50 natural -- it was recorded that the pace of the game as well as the passes completed were the same. The only difference was an increase in the number of goals scored on artificial turfs.”

After the delegates complete their tour of other Indian venues, FIFA will call for a tender from its list of 25 licence holders who will then visit the site to submit their bids.
While the bidding process will take 2-3 months, the turf-laying process will take 4-5 months.

Meanwhile, work on the training centre will start soon, according to A R Khaleel, president of the Karnataka State Football Association.

“The foundation-laying ceremony for the training centre and the artificial turf will be in the second-half of October. The total cost is around Rs 12-13 crore with Karnataka State Football Association contributing Rs one crore and the remaining shared between FIFA and AIFF,” said Khaleel.

Following visits to the five Indian cities, the delegates will hold a review meeting in New Delhi on September 23.

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