TWO YEARS ahead of the FIFA U-17 World Cup, the Vivekananda Yuva Bharati Krirangan is ready with the newly-laid grass turf that will get a go-ahead with the high voltage Mohun Bagan-East Bengal derby in the local league tomorrow.
After an inspection with PWD officials to give a final nod. West Bengal Sports Minister Arup Biswas told reporters,
"For a long time, we've been waiting to see a world class pitch and it's ready right here."
With the state under a heavy spell of monsoon in the past few months, the relaying work was a bit hampered and pedestal fans across the periphery of the turf were used as blowers to dry the newly-laid surface. Salt Lake Stadium CEO Jyotishman Chatterjee told PTI,
"Yes, things would have been even better had there been a bit more sunshine over the last few days and not so much of rain. We can't complain because these problems will occur during monsoon. Overall, we are happy with the nature of the ground condition."
The relaying work for the FIFE-approved turf was done by the same company that had laid the pitch at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium in Bengaluru.
The new grass is from Reivera Bermuda seeds procured from the USA and below it there are two layers of sand (300mm) and gravel (100mm).
"The next layer is fitted with perforated pipes so that the water-logging won't be an issue," Amit Malhotra of Sports Turf and Golf Enterprise said.
The maintenance will be looked after by the company till at least the conclusion of the 2017 World Cup.
The artificial turf of the Saltlake located Stadium, which is earmarked as one of the venues for the high profile tournament in 2017, had to be removed to meet the standards of the World Cup.
The turf that was laid in 2009 had drawn much criticism from players and officials who had claimed it to be less forgiving than natural grass.
They also say it would impact play because of concerns about injury and balls travel and bounce differently on the fake grass.