Football fans in Kerala are jubilus as it seems FIFA's special initiative will help the almost derelict Ambedkar Stadium gain a new artificial turf under the 'Win in India with India' campaign.
The project is aimed at ensuring that utilities and facilities are afforded to places in India where the game of football is popular. To this affect FIFA President Sepp Blatter, termed the country a "sleeping giant".
It seems no surprise then that Kerala, where there is almost a frenzy for the beautiful game, has qualified for the scheme that provides world-class artificial playing surfaces, at no charge whatsoever.
Expected to is the deal around ₹5 Crores, which will be laid by an Italian company that has in turn tied up with the governing body of world football, to be part of such initiatives.
The GCDA (Greater Cochin Development Authority) meanwhile has removed all obstacles that remained in the part of the Kerala Football Association's (KFA) long proposed takeover of the stadium, whilst riders are still being discussed on and inserted regarding the renovation of the stadium which includes the addition of a small viewing gallery. FIFA are set to approve a final draft of agreement signed between the two bodies.
"KFA is satisfied with the draft of the agreement prepared by the GCDA. We are awaiting FIFA's approval, which is expected soon," KFA secretary Anilkumar P revealed, to the New Indian Express.
The local body's responsibilities include installing facilities like dressing rooms and parking spaces, whilst FIFA are solely concerned with the playing surface.
"The turfing will be done first. There will be floodlights and protective fencing. Once the agreement is made, turfing would be completed within five months," elucidated Anilkumar. He also stated that the preliminary work to lay the ground could start as soon as within a month.
GCDA chairman N Venugopal, explained that the much awaited renovation of the stadium will be parlayed with the city body.
"The draft of the agreement to be made between the GCDA and KFA will be taken up for discussion in the general Council on either June 27 or 28. The exact details of the project will be cleared then."
The reason delaying their renovation of the stadium seems to be as follows. The football association of the state of Kerala has identified the stadium as an exclusive location to host national level football matches and regular training for various teams as well. This will include relocation of traders, whose businesses litter the compound outside the galleries.
The existing structure is set to be demolished and replaced by a venerable building with the idea of laying the surface to be done first.
With the renovation of the stadium being talked about for years and several projects being pushed to the fore, it seems FIFA had seemingly lost their patience, and were about to withdraw their offer for the artificial turf due to indecisive harakiri by the appointed officials. Apparently Kerala weren't in a position to identify land for the scheme either.