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Indian football shall see its first professional game on an artificial turf today when Churchill Brothers and Air India square-off in the first of the IFA Shield semi-finals at the Salt Lake Stadium...

Whether it’s good for the game or a negative sign is debatable as there are multifarious views on this subject. However, most players are a little sceptical on having to play on these surfaces as they feel whatever the condition of the ground be, natural grass is way better than the synthetic ones.

“We are not used to playing on these surfaces and hence, we have to struggle to get adjusted. When you kick the ball, it takes much more effort than what you have to do in normal grass fields,” explains Gouramangi Singh.

The Indian international further states that the risk of injuries on an artificial turf is way higher than the grass surfaces. He believes that professional football mustn’t be played on such plastic grounds.

“At a professional level, you play to win and a player thinks about his career and injuries. The injury risk is high on artificial pitches. In grass you get a footing while kicking the ball and hence there is some shock-absorbed. There’s always a fear of a knee injury on artificial turfs as there’s no shock absorbed.

“In foreign countries like Germany, you have natural turfs but one artificial pitch is there. It’s OK to just train and have fun once in a while on an artificial turf but a game is a game. You try to avoid your mistakes and prove yourself amidst the real test,” opines the best I-League defender.


Artificial Turf At Salt Lake

While the venues for Kolkata I-League games haven’t been finalized, Gouramangi prefers playing at Barasat than at Salt Lake as the former has a natural grass turf.

“I would like to play at Barasat.  It’s better to go there and play even though it s a little far. Natural is always better,” he added.

Having to play Air India in the semis, Churchill Brothers are just two stops away from starting their season with a bang. They were one of the most impressive sides last season and had the I-League title to show at the end of it.

“Air India always puts-up a good performance against us. In fact most teams want to beat us as we are the defending champions of the I-League.

“Tournaments such as Durand Cup and IFA Shield are like a prelude to the I-League where you can try using different formations and allow the new signings to get adjusted to the system.

“Personally for me, I have never played an IFA Shield final. I have won almost all the honours in Indian football except this. So, I hope to add this to my medals tally,” said the Manipuri. 

Rahul Bali.

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