Stadium feeling ‘Santosh’
By Express News Service | Published: 23rd November 2012 09:10 AM |
The dust having settled over the right to host the Santosh Trophy, the neglected Ambedkar Stadium is in for a clean up, albeit temporary.
Awaiting a long-pending renovation, the weed-infested venue will be used as a training ground for the national football championship, the later stages of which are slated to be held at the Jawaharlal Nehru International Stadium during the February-March window.
With the All-India Football Federation pushing the schedule ahead by a month, the KFA is gearing up to restore the playing area sufficiently to open it up for teams competing in the Santosh Trophy for practice. Although the exact dates for the popular event are yet to be announced, it is certain that Kochi will be hosting the semifinals and the final, with a strong possibility of the quarterfinals as well.
“We have obtained permission from the Greater Cochin Development Authority (GCDA) to use the Ambedkar Stadium as a training venue for the Santosh Trophy,” Kerala Football Association secretary Anil Kumar P told ‘City Express’. “Work has already begun with overgrown grass being removed from the playing area. We intend to raise the surface a bit before grass is replanted. The new schedule for the Santosh Trophy suits us. We now have enough time to get the ground ready for training purposes.”
While the eagerly anticipated project by the GCDA, in conjunction with the KFA and the Sports Ministry, to develop the stadium into an exclusive football stadium with a FIFA-certified synthetic playing surface is yet to get off the shelf, the move will get footballs rolling at the venue after a long time.
Meanwhile, GCDA chairman N Venugopal said that it has been decided to allot the ground to the KFA for a nominal amount as daily rent. “It is a temporary arrangement. The KFA will be in charge of setting up the necessary facilities to enable the Ambedkar Stadium to be used as a training venue for the Santosh Trophy. We will only charge around `200 a day,” he said.
A decision on the start of the bigger renovation project will be taken after a meeting with the authorities concerned, the date for which is yet to be decided, he said.