Kohima: With the launch of the first astro-turf pitch at the Indira Gandhi Stadium in the capital city of Kohima recently, sports in Nagaland, particularly, football has got a big leg-up.
So what does it mean in terms of sporting infrastructure? The astro turf at IG Stadium has been installed following FIFA specifications. Simply put, it has a play field size of 105×66 mtrs. The turf is one of the best in the country with all components, except the silica sand, being imported from the US.
“We cannot expect our sportspersons to return with medals and accolades without providing them good infrastructure. I am hopeful that with the installation of this astro turf, we will begin the process of sports development in regard to football in Nagaland,” Nagaland chief minister Neiphiu Rio had said during the inauguration of the facility recently.
The 2019 edition of Dr T Ao Trophy was played as part of the inauguration ceremony recently. Once an annual feature, the championship was held after a gap of four years.
"This newly constructed ground is surely going to change the way sport is played in the northeast," said Colo Mero, organiser of the Championship. "Such facilities will inspire players to work harder and do better," he added.
Vekuto Puro, coach of the Phek district team, the winner of the 2019 Dr T Ao Trophy, said that the team played a new formation on the newly constructed ground. "This astro-turf football pitch was not only an excitement for the players but also for the packed crowds who came to get a glimpse of the turf ground and to cheer their team," he added.
However, this ground was made a reality by the hard work of the many labourers and the constant effort of the department of youth resources and sports. Work on the project commenced in November 2014 with the time for completion of 24 months. However, the actual time of completion was four years and two months.
Sources in the state PWD (H) youth resources and sports division, informed EastMojo that the astro-turf project was conceived in 2013-14 with a total cost of Rs 4.98 crore, with an initial funding of Rs 1 crore from SPA, and Rs 90 lakh in the year 2014-15. The state also had to bear an amount of Rs 55 lakh from the state plan and Rs 40 lakh from non-plan from 2015-17 since the funding from SPA was discontinued.
Due to want of fund, the project could not be completed in the stipulated time. Later, the remaining fund of Rs 213 lakh under the development expenditure (additional) was received in 2018.