The need for artificial pitches

Chaman, the scenic town bordering Afghanistan’s southern province of Kandahar, has emerged as a potentially glorious centre for the Pakistan Premier Football League due to its crowd-pulling ability.

These days, 15,000 to 20,000 spectators throng the venue and enjoy the league matches.

So far all the encounters have been held at the venue successfully without any security problem and public violence.

Two local clubs, Afghan FC and Muslim FC, host the visiting teams in Chaman at the Government High School Ground.

Before the start of the Premier League, the condition of the pitch, with no grass, was discussed at the managers meeting in Lahore and Muslim FC had promised that they would grow grass on it. They kept their promise and the pitch was improved after a couple of months of efforts.

But it is very difficult to keep the grass growing here due to weather conditions in Balochistan. Quetta’s Sadiq Shaheed Stadium and Nushki Stadium also attract huge crowds during the league games, a fact which proves that Balochistan could be transformed into a great market for football if concerted efforts were made by the authorities.

People of Balochistan, particularly of Chaman, love football. Last year, when Chaman was dropped as a Premier League venue, people from Chaman used to go to Quetta for watching their teams in the league.

As the matches normally are held in the afternoon the spectators from Chaman had to spend a couple of nights in the Balochistan capital. So they stayed in hotels, spending a lot of money.

No doubt there is security risk in Quetta these days, but Chaman looks to be a safe place for the visiting sides.

Although Pakistan Football Federation (PFF) is trying to construct a football facility in Balochistan as the world football governing body has already provided such facilities to Lahore and Peshawar in the shape of gigantic football houses through its special project called ‘FIFA Goal Project’. A football house is also being constructed at Karachi. Similar projects are in the pipeline in the interior of Sindh which will help grow football in these areas as well.

But I would like to attract the attention of the PFF towards a very important point which is the basic need for football in the country. The PFF should request FIFA to prepare a few pitches with artificial grass in Pakistan which would solve most of the problems. FIFA is committed to do so as it has done this in several countries.

Recently, an international tournament in Palestine, in which Pakistan also participated, was conducted on pitches having artificial grass.

Before the tournament Pakistani team also played a game in Thailand on such a pitch.

The national senior team will also play on such pitch when they go to Singapore next week for a FIFA friendly game against Singapore on November 19.

Even in Uzbekistan, Pakistan played matches on such pitches.

Government High School Ground in Chaman should be on the top of the priority list as FIFA will be easily convinced to prepare such a pitch there because of the crowd-pulling capacity of the centre.

Recently, FIFA suggested to Pakistan to hold Premier League matches on such grounds where crowds usually come.

FIFA also installs grills while preparing such pitches. If such a pitch is prepared in Chaman, its security issue will also be resolved as the public will not be able to enter the ground due to grills.

Sadiq Shaeed Stadium, Quetta, and Nushki Stadium, Nushki, should be the next targets.

Even the international venue of Peoples Sports Complex in Karachi also needs such a pitch because here too natural grass could not be maintained.

Due to the poor condition of the pitch most of the teams were reluctant to play here during the ongoing Premier League.

Punjab Stadium, Lahore, where the national teams train for international events and which is also an international venue also needs an artificial pitch.

Municipal Stadium in Rawalpindi, PMC Ground in Faisalabad, Younis Stadium, Mardan and PAF Complex Ground in Peshawar also need such turfs.

Pakistan Premier League is very demanding and a team normally has to play a game every other day and when there is no grass on the pitches the players get injured. By making a few artificial pitches, we can minimise these injuries.

For such projects FIFA normally sends its team and handles all the process by itself unlike the Goal Projects which involve intricate procedures.

The PFF should take it seriously as without better pitches the country cannot prepare high quality players for the national teams.

Former Pakistan coach George Kottan from Austria used to say that the football pitches in Pakistan are suitable for horse-racing and not for football.

Even Pakistan football team’s Serbian coach Zavisa Milosavljevic is also not satisfied with the condition of the pitches in Pakistan.

Most of the pitches are uneven and don’t have any grass. If any pitch has some grass, it is not that much thick and sound which could suit the players.

It’s time we focused on this aspect of the game as it would help the country develop its football greatly.

Source: Alam Zeb Safi [The News]