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AIFF look to improve playing conditions.

HAVING roped in a few sponsors in the last few years, All India Football Federation ( AIFF) president Praful Patel is now trying to improve the standard of Indian football.

After initiating the process of professionalising the ILeague as per Asian Football Confederation norms, he is trying to improve the mediocre infrastructure in the country.

Patel dropped a few hints to this effect after the executive committee meeting here on Friday, without giving details.

But an AIFF official on Thursday elaborated on Patel's plan, saying that some progress with regards to improving infrastructure has indeed taken place.

" We are examining some models which are based abroad. Under these models, the same pitch can be used for multiple purposes like playing cricket, football as well as hockey. Some presentations have already been made and some will be made in the near future by turf companies from Australia and other countries," the official told M AIL T ODAY on condition of anonymity.

" The president will go ( abroad) with a team to check out the best available technology and how it can be put to use. The moment it is finalised, it will be a re- defining moment for Indian football. We also hope that complaints from players regarding poor infrastructure will come to an end after that." Welcoming the AIFF plan, Indian team's defender Gouramangi Singh said that the federation has taken a step in the right direction.

" I am elated that the federation has taken it upon itself to improve the quality of grounds and pitches. It was due to lack of proper pitches and training facilities that we needed to travel abroad for preparatory camps," he said.

" We have been continuously requesting for better playing conditions and now that sponsors and corporate giants have started investing in the game, I think it is the right time for the federation to improve the playing conditions." Singh said unless the infrastructure improves, the game won't prosper. " This is big news for Indian football because with better playing conditions, the quality of the game will also improve and the moment this happens, youngsters will be attracted to the game. The reason behind English football being widely followed by Indian youngsters is because of the fast paced game they play. The basic reason behind this is the superior quality of grounds they have," he said.

" Having toured Barcelona and Portugal with the Indian team, I feel the grounds, besides other things, need to be changed if Indian football has to reach the same level of fan following. All this augurs well for Indian football." Meanwhile, another national team player was also happy at the development. He felt that the federation should be a bit more careful before finalising deals because the laying of artificial turfs has been a huge deterrent to playing swift football.

" The artificial turf, which was initially seen as an infrastructural development, turned out to be a flop as it ended up not only slowing down the game but also prevented players from playing freely as the chances of injuries are much higher on artificial turfs," he told M AIL T ODAY . " The biggest example is the Yuba Bharati Kirangan in Kolkata. It was supposed to have one of the best pitches in the country. But after the artificial turf was laid, players no longer want to play there. Not only the ball doesn't travel smoothly, even the feet get stuck while attempting a shot.

All this ultimately brings the quality of the game down."

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Publication:Mail Today (New Delhi, India)
Date:May 14, 2010
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