It’s not all gloom for football in India amid the series of lockdowns. The fans in Bengaluru will be able to walk on the new, FIFA-approved turf at the Bangalore Football Stadium (BFS) in a month or so, thanks to some positive developments over the past few months.
The Karnataka State Football Association (KSFA) recently made a huge purchase of about 1.75 crore rupees to obtain top quality artificial turf from Italy. Given the Coronavirus situation that has put progress on hold across various sector, the transportation was delayed. However, the turf is now has arrived and the BFS is set for revamp with work scheduled to begin on Monday.
Goal caught up with KSFA General Secretary Mr M Satya Narayan who spoke about the process of choosing the right turf and the conditions that need to be met before making the huge purchase. He stressed on how the precautions are vital, given the mammoth nature of the project.
“First we put a tender in the newspaper. We put out a few conditions. There are about 50 turfs of various sizes in Bengaluru – small plot, five-a-side, six-aside, eleven-a-side and so on. We insisted that whoever puts that should have put an eleven-a-side earlier,” he said.
“Our second condition was that it has to be from a FIFA-approved manufacturer. A FIFA approved manufacturer has FIFA-approved and non-FIFA-approved products. We insisted on a FIFA approved product.
“Our third condition was that after the pitch is laid, FIFA gives a certificate after performing a bounce test. They have a bounce test to see if the rubber and silicon are evenly spread and so on. We asked for that certification and only after that, we will be releasing the payment to them. Since this is an association, we have assured that the turf is of top quality.
“We also insisted that the turf has to come from either the United States or Europe. These are the precautions we took.”
The turf is all but ready to be laid. But first, the base must be prepared and this could take up to 10 days. The current turf was laid in 2011 as per the FIFA Goal Project, an initiative by the global governing body to empower national associations. Satya Narayan expects the new turf to last for 5-8 years.
“We have unloaded and it has arrived at the ground. We should be starting work on Monday. The contractor will remove the old turf which was part of the FIFA Goal project. Then he will check the base, add some extra stones and gravel to ensure the base is normal. This will take about ten days – to check for the base, water outlets and everything. Then they will put the main turf,” he explained.
“From our side, we have appointed a qualified architect cum engineer who will ensure that everything is as according to the contract. As an association, we are spending 1-5-1.6 crore rupees. It is a huge sum for a state association."
Although BFS’ primary motive is to host BDFA and state association games. During the off-season, it is available for rent, with clubs such as Bengaluru FC opting to use it for training purposes. The ground is also available for public rentals during the night. This is how Satya Narayan hopes to recover the investment.
“We will see how we can recover the cost. We can get rentals off the turf when it’s not used by the league teams. The league teams will play a maximum of two matches. We don’t charge the Bangalore district and state team.
“Every day between two to five, there will be two games. For six months, we will have competitive matches. In the remaining time, we are hoping that one or two big clubs will rent it for their training in the morning. We have a night sport. The person who puts the lights pays us the rental. Since it’s new turf, the cost may increase. We would like to recover the investment through rentals in four years time,” he explained.
This is not the best of times for football in India and all over the world. But the KSFA secretary has found a bright spot – the absence of league games acts as a catalyst for the installation of the new turf.
The renovation of the stadium is still on hold due to permission-related complications but Satya Narayan is hoping that football resumes on the new turf.
“This is the right time for us to do the turf work. Hopefully, in a month’s time, it should be done. These turf come with markings. So once the base is ready, they just have to roll it.
“We are excited because all players will benefit from the new turf. Thanks to Mr NA Haris (MLA), we are dealing with the stadium construction along with the new turf. Let’s put the turf and continue with the football. Whenever the permission comes, we will see about the construction of the stadium,” he concluded.