Kohima (Nagaland): With an objective to improve infrastructure for football and nurture players with good facilities, Nagaland Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio inaugurated the state’s first Astroturf football ground at the Indira Gandhi Stadium.
The project is conceived with a view to providing a standard football field that could host national and international matches, besides nurturing and training budding players.
The day coincided with the 101st birth anniversary of legendary footballer Dr T Ao, who was the first captain of independent India’s Olympic football team at the London Olympics in 1948.
The foundation stone at the stadium was laid by the then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi on October 6 in 1987, and inaugurated by former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee on October 28 in 2003.
The center has been working on a quality strategic sports infrastructure development plan for every district by engaging and partnering with proven sports consultants. To give a better opportunity to young budding footballers, the Chief Minister said that the center is partnering with the Bhaichung Bhutia Football School (BBFS).
“I believe this is a great blessing for all the Nagas, especially the young players. This is a dream come true. We have been watching all the footballers, stars on television. One day we will be watching our players becoming a star,” said Kenneth Kikon footballer.
The size of the playground is 105 x 66 meter, which is the International Federation of Association Football (FIFA) approved size. The Astroturf is one of the many achievements of the People’s Democratic Alliance (PDA) government in its 11-month rule.
An exhibition match was played between Chief Minister’s XI and Chief Secretary’s XI to mark the commencement of the 20th Inter-District Football Championship 2019 Dr T Ao Trophy.
“I am sure that the government takes good care of it, this will provide a huge platform for the youngsters to excel in this profession and I hope this will bring a change to the upcoming footballers,” footballer Mashun said.
With the Astroturf stadium, installed at a cost of Rs 4.11 crore, Nagaland hopes to further produce good quality players and help India become a dominant force in the field of football.