Nestled in the hilly area of the Sarang Dinthar, just 18km from the Aizawl city, the newly laid, FIFA-funded artificial football turf will strengthen Mizoram’s development program.
The Mizoram state government, which gave Rs 80 lakh for leveling the rocky area for the football field, officially handed over the ground to Mizoram Football Association (MFA) on Monday.
“We already have nine artificial grounds, spread across the state. But this will be our main training center in the future,” MFA secretary Tetea Hmar told IANS about the future plans.
With the financial support of the world governing body (FIFA), and recommendation of the All India Football Federation (AIFF), the foundation stone for the construction of the football ground in Sarang Dintharwas was laid in 2016.
According to Hmar, the playing area of the new ground is 105×68 meters while it has four meters high steel wire mesh on all sides.
“There is a six meters mesh behind each goal post. The world governing body has also provided equipment, including a tractor for maintenance of the artificial grass,” he said.
On the opening of the ground, a grassroots football festival was organized. There was an exhibition match between the veterans’ teams. Hmar said without the support of local people it wouldn’t have been possible to have a ground in the region.
Mizoram has 30 players representing different teams in the Indian Super League (ISL). “In the future, you will see more players making an impact at the national level,” said Hmar.
With the support of the state government, a 100-bed hostel is also coming up. “Our goal is to have Sairang Dinthar as the main training center of the state where we can also have coaching and referees’ course,” he said.
Artificial football grounds have been key to the development of the game in the state, says Hmar.
“Due to heavy monsoon rains throughout the year maintenance of natural grass is expensive. And because of the local weather conditions, it is not practical to train regularly on the grassy ground. So, we use natural grass for competitions,” he explained.
The state has made rapid progress in men’s football, but the development of the women’s game has been not much. “Women’s football has been neglected but we plan to invest heavily in this area too. In the next five years we should make good progress,” said Hmar.