When A.C.Moideen, the sports minister of Kerala visited the stadium 8 months ago, offered to complete the second part of construction of the Payyanad Stadium in Manjeri, a lot was expected. A state that adores its football as much as its cricket found a new reason to be happy about. Sadly, the promises have been in vain.
The contract was agreed 10 months ago, but what has happened now is shameful for the sports ministry and quite frankly, for the country as a whole - even the first part of construction isn't completed.
The second part of the construction includes an indoor stadium, synthetic tracks, a swimming pool, and a cricket training ground. But even the floodlights haven't been constructed after an expenditure of an year in time and 4.25 crores in rupees have been incurred. The hostel has only been partially built.
Even the grass which has to be taken care of continuously has been dried up, adding insult to injury.
An estimated 12.25 crore rupees have been allowed to transport water to the stadium, but that plan has also been stalled.
If this continues, this stadium which was once filled with the Malabarians will be destroyed by chronic lack of interest from the government. This will also affect Gokulam Kerala FC who are planning to make it their home ground in the I-League.
A combination of quality stadium and quality fans is necessary for the development of football in the nation. And in a state like Kerala, especially the Malabar side of it, a quality stadium goes a long way. It won't be hard finding quality fans to flock into it.
When the Federation Cup 2013-14 was held here, the fans exceeded all expectations. The capacity of the stadium was officially said to be 25,000 but on matchday 1 of the tournament, almost 50,000 people reached the stadium in the scorching heat. Only 30,000 could get in to witness the first match held there. It was due to this amazing attendance that the Payyanad stadium came under the spotlight of all of India.
It was thought to be the start for Manjeri. It was expected to be the start of more tournaments. Dreams were built of an International friendly. Dreams that went nowhere. What looked to be the start of a new hub of Indian football by fans is now in pathetic condition. This has to change quickly. This has to change for the better. Some responsibility has to be taken by the government. New promises have to be made to ensure that the stadium is built according to plans.
And for a change, promises need to be kept.
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