THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: With FIFA World Cup 2018 around the corner, the city is already on a football high. And, fans are proving their loyalty by donning their favourite jerseys and siding with their favourite teams. Amidst all the fervour, the city is all set to get a first-of-its-kind football turf, that will be a major boost for the game enthusiast.
The new turf is an initiative by three friends - Jimmy Joy, Hari Xavier and Rahul Raj - who have been doing business for the past eight years in the city. During a visit to Kochi, the trio happened to visit a football ground there, following which they decided to set up one in the capital city as well.
“We have been on many grounds but most of them are not smooth enough for players. At the same time, we found that our city does not have enough grounds for football. So, we decided to set up a football turf, ” says Jimmy.
The turf, Diego Football Park, is named after famous Brazilian footballer Diego Ribas. The team has been planning the project for last six months and the foundation stone was laid by actor Gokul Suresh on April 25.
Jimmy says, “We overcame quite a lot of hurdles with regard to funding. Though we approached the government departments for financial support, all we got was appreciation but no money.”
Diego, to be thrown open to the public next week, is Thiruvananthapuram’s first and largest artificial football turf with a state-of-the-art infrastructure featuring two five-a-sides and one seven-a-side field. It is situated at Ulloor-Aakulam Road, behind Nish.
With the opening of Diego, football enthusiasts expect a space to practice and conduct matches. The court will be open till 12 pm so that people can come and play in their time. The estimated cost for the project is Rs 65 lakhs.
Diego offers systems that are designed to meet FIFA 2 Star certification according to the FIFA Quality Concept for Football Turf. It has been developed to replicate natural turf but with the bonus of being extremely and highly durable.
“Our football pitch will provide greater durability and playability for longer hours. Even if it rains, the players can play comfortably, “ said Jimmy, who is also a state-level handball champion.