Srinagar: In the backdrop of rising popularity of football in the Valley and players’ interest in sweating out the game, the local authorities of Jammu and Kashmir are focusing on improving soccer facilities in the state.
The TRC football ground in Srinagar, which also hosts I-League matches, is getting a complete makeover as new dressing rooms, rest rooms, changing rooms and lavatories are being constructed in a full swing to extend full facility to local and national players.
Sarmad Hafeez, Commissioner Secretary of J&K Youth Sports & Services, said that they are aiming to make the stadium well-equipped to hold international football matches. He also expressed the desire to take these developmental activities to the grassroot levels.
Speaking to ANI, Hafeez said: “We have all kind of facilities that are required for conducting an international football game. For teams, there are change rooms, locker rooms and rest rooms. We have created facilities for the public as well. Gender-based (facilities) have also been built for the audience.”
“We are thinking of upgrading the turf of this ground (TRC ground). Afterward, we will move to grassroot level to make the improvements. We may not be into building big stadiums but we are trying to make playgrounds, at least. In fact, we have allotted Rs 10 lakh block wise under Khelo India programme,” he added.
The football players too also felt that better facilities will attract more people towards soccer.
Danish, a local soccer player, said: “We are satisfied with the kind of efforts being made by the authorities. Investments are being made on facilities like turf, floodlights, etc. It is good for payers. More the facilities better the performance. I hope the infrastructure will keep improving. Earlier, we used to face a lot of difficulties. There were no changing rooms. So we had to change in the ground itself. Important things like strategy building, plan making….. everything used to be on the ground. But now there are separate space allotted for these activities.”
Local woman football player Nahida Nighat is also relieved seeing the overall improvement being made. Supplementing Danish’s point of view, “Infrastructure is very important. Earlier, there were no change rooms which used to create a problem for women players. Basic facilities are very important. This is for the first time that such facilities are being provided to the players,” Nighta said.
The state has a strong connection to football having produced many legendary soccer players like Abdul Majeed Kakroo in the past. The improved level of facilities is a step towards inspiring more youths to join football matches and kick it off for a better future in the Valley.