Mumbai students must be given a taste of international facilities, says ex-India hockey player
Converting old playgrounds into artificial turfs is not a futuristic move, but something that’s the need of the hour, says the former coach for the Indian field hockey teammumbai Updated: Sep 25, 2017 13:38 IST
Joaquim Carvalho, former India hockey player and a coach for the Indian field hockey team until 2008, tells HT how schools and their playgrounds can cater to aspiring athletes in a city such as Mumbai, which does not have adequate public sports facilities. Carvalho, a former student of St Stanislaus High School, and its trustees convinced its management and that of Antonio DaSilva School to invest in artificial turfs. Over the past few years, he has been the driving force behind several other institutes upgrading their sporting facilities too.
What are the advantages of playing football/hockey on an artificial turf compared to natural turf?
All hockey matches at the international level are played on an artificial turf. In Europe and Australia, children are trained to play the sport on artificial turfs. This gives them an edge over the others. That schools are now slowly moving towards providing students with international level facilities is a welcome move.
How does playing on an artificial turf help students improve their game?
The basics of football and hockey change with the turf on which we play. So details such as control over the ball, balance of the ball and running changes with the turf on which the sport is played. Converting old playgrounds into artificial turfs is not a futuristic move, but something that’s the need of the hour. For years, city schools have produced Olympians. Providing them with the best of facilities is the best thing a school could do.
How difficult is it to convince school authorities to implement such changes? How much does it cost?
A decent piece of land costs about Rs1 crore. If it has to be converted into an artificial turf, it needs a huge investment. However, the good news is that various investors are showing interest and schools to convert their playgrounds. Finding space for sports in a city such as Mumbai is a big challenge and schools are the ideal place. They need to reconsider the idea that natural turf is the best for children.
What are the disadvantages of installing artificial turfs?
Maintaining artificial turfs is challenging and costly. Schools just need to find the right investor and ensure that he takes care of the installation and maintenance of the ground.
Should more schools opt for artificial turfs over natural turfs?
Schools should stop making excuses, such as lack of financial backing or inadequate space, for their failure to provide children with the best sports facilities. I hope all schools with a playground switch to artificial turfs so students benefit. Just imagine the advantage a student stands to have if he or she is given a taste of international facilities sitting in Mumbai. School grounds will no longer be unusable during rains as a natural turf is ideal for the monsoon.There is no such thing as a small ground. As long as there is space for sports, you know your country will have a bright future for generations to come.