THE FC GOA FIRST TEAM will return to the Salvador do Mundo Panchayat Ground following a possible resolution of a controversial intervention by some panchayat members.
Last week, the Panchayat's head Antonio Fernandes along with some of his men had dug up the ground on which FC Goa management had spent Rs 1 crore in refurbishing and maintenance over a long period of time. The local politicians said they wanted to build a cricket pitch in what has traditionally been seen as a football ground.
The event drew sharp criticism from every corner of the Indian football landscape and major figures came out in support of FC Goa.
Today, in a statement, the FC Goa management said that they had received assurances of police protection and would return their first team to the ground for practice again,
"FC Goa would like to communicate that the club continues to keep its community initiatives active at the Salvador do Mundo Panchayat Ground with coaching for the U14 and U18 teams of Sporting Club of Porvorim and Grassroots festivals being conducted at the premises at no cost to the participants. The club continues to also look after the ground maintenance as per the terms of our MoU with the Panchayat.
The Club had temporarily moved its first team activities away from the ground for the past week fearing a possible breach in bio-bubble protocols. At the current time, FC Goa would like to further convey that the First Team will be returning to Salvador Do Mundo Panchayat Ground with assurances of police protection now in place should the need arise to protect against a bio bubble breach.
The Club also takes this opportunity to openly invite all the residents of Salvador do Mundo to engage in conversation with FC Goa officials in regards to the project at the Football Ground.
The last Gram Sabha meeting where the partnership between FC Goa and the Panchayat was discussed didn’t see a representative of the Club present at the venue and the Club believes that a fair representation of the matter was not put forth to the residents.
The Club is ready to furnish all facts and information in relation to the partnership for the residents of the Panchayat, the parents and participants of our programs for them to evaluate the matter in all fairness and transparency."
Apart from hosting the first team, the Salvador do Mundo Panchayat Ground also held dozens of grassroots and academy training sessions conducted by FC Goa and their partners. The ground played a major role in the club's feeder program and talent scouting initiatives.
With normalcy hopefully restored, the Gaurs' season can now carry on without any major hiccups.
At a time when grassroots and youth development programs are trying to reach out to every community in order to help Indian football grow and turn a corner when it comes to the quality of talent it produces, interventions of political nature remain a threat to its potential for progress. When FC Goa were fighting to save their ground, it was seen as a metaphor for the struggles of so many clubs and academies have faced all over India against political interests, lobby groups, land mafia and agents of other sports. And with the Gaurs' victory, at some level, everyone who has worked at ground level in Indian football would feel vindicated.
Get the latest in the world of Sports, Teams, and Players! Free Delivery to your Inbox.