FC GOA'S TRAINING GROUND has been dug up by members of Panchayat, to make way for a concrete cricket pitch.
The ground in question, the Salvador do Mundo Village Panchayat Ground, has been used by the club for practice since last year. The FC Goa management has also invested almost Rs 1 crore for its renovations and upkeep so far.
Thr ground has also been used for their feeder club program, including the training of the U-14 and U-18 teams of Sporting Club of Porvorim. It has also hosted several grassroots festivals.
But earlier today, members of the Salvador do Mundo panchayat led by its head Antonio Fernandes came to the ground and dug it up without any prior notice. The reason they cited was that they wanted to develop infrastructure for cricket. Which they accomplished by digging up a ground well-established as a football pitch.
FC Goa, however, did not find the panchayat's explanation to be very convincing. In a statement condemning the panchayat's action, they alleged this was done for "local political leverage" by the persons involved, and also criticised inaccurate news reports that painted the club, and its association with the ground in question, in a negative light,
"FC Goa would like to clarify that it believes that the locals have been misled in regards to the terms and conditions of the partnership with false accusations brandished and recently published in media outlets. In lieu of the sizable investment, the Gaurs’ right to use the facilities without payment only exists for the first three years of the partnership – taking in the factor of the sizable initial investment on the development of the football pitches. Following the initial three years, there are provisions in place in the initially signed MoU for mutual agreement on the commercial aspects if FC Goa are to continue using the facilities."
It's commonplace for football grounds in India to suffer due to politics and cricket, or a combination of both. Several Indian clubs, including Bengaluru FC, Mumbai FC, Punjab FC, Kerala Blasters, East Bengal and Mohun Bagan have faced struggles to secure their grounds. However, it's rare for such a thing to happen in Goa, where football is much more popular than cricket. Even BCCI has long ignored the state's flagship cricket stadium in Fatorda when it comes to hosting major matches.
On the other hand, football remains a core part of the Goan lifestyle and several clubs have done exemplary work in developing talent for the national leagues and the national team in recent years. FC Goa's efforts are the latest step forward in that regard and the Salvador do Mundo Village Panchayat Ground has been playing an important role in that.
However, with the ground rendered unsuable due to the pitch being dug up, FC Goa have suffered a major setback in their efforts to conduct youth development through building a relationship with the community in question.
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