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Getting ground match-ready for Subroto Cup final: PMC, DSO pass buck

While the district sports office believes that its job is to only provide the players with a ground and some referees to play the tournament, the Pune municipal corporation officials say the Pune district football association (PDFA) ground in Dobarwadi was in good condition and deemed it fit for the event

pune Updated: Aug 07, 2018 15:34 IST
Pranav Shahaney
Pranav Shahaney
Hindustan Times, Pune
pune,maharashtra,subroto cup
Players of St Vincent’s High School (yellow) and Orbis School (green) in action during the u-17 semi-finals of the Subroto Cup on Monday. For their entire campaign, teams have played in substandard conditions with dense, overgrown grass at the PDFA facility at the Dobarwadi ground as seen in the picture.(Shankar Narayan/HT PHOTO)

The maintenance of the ground, where India’s most prestigious and oldest national school football tournament Subroto Cup is being played, is on hold because of the blame game between the organisers, the Pune municipal corporation (PMC) and the district sports office (DSO).

While the DSO believes that their job is to only provide the players with a ground and some refrees to play the tournament, PMC officials say that the Pune District Football Association (PDFA) ground in Dobarwadi was in good condition, according to their knowledge. However, dense overgrown grass covers the entire ground so much so that goats were let on the ground to graze after the final round of game on Monday.

Despite the ground being owned by PDFA, its secretary Pradeep Pardeshi is unwilling to accept that the major maintenance responsibilities should be taken by them and believes their only role was to provide referees for the tournament.

“I think we have provided them with a ground and referees. We also look into the other little things that take to keep a ground fully functional. I have paid money from my own pocket to keep mow the pitch, but that is all I can do. The organisers need to step up as well. All the operations are looked after by the District Sports Office (DSO) and they are the right people to speak to regarding this issue.”

Thus, to ensure that the under-14 event, which starts on Tuesday, has a good surface to play on, Hindustan Times got in touch with the District Sports Office (DSO) head Vijay Santan.

“The DSO may have organised the tournament, but the responsibility of the maintenance lies with the Pune municipal corporation (PMC). They are financed by the government to conduct these tournaments. We did not have any say in the venue. They came to us and told us that the Subroto Cup begins from a certain date and we will conduct it at the PDFA ground,” Santan said.

Santan said this only a day after the authorities looking after the tournament operations suggested it was the DSO’s responsibility to look after the facilities. The blame was first put on the DSO chief and he deflected it off himself and asked us to get in touch with the PMC.

Rajendra Dhumane, sports head of the PMC, stated that he was unaware of there being any problem with the grass. His stance was that he had personally looked into the conditions and deemed them fine before the tournament kicked off last week.

“I am unaware of any problem with the grass, but now that it has come to my attention, I will immediately get it attended to. In fact, we have been trying to get someone to take a look, but it hasn’t happened. Now, I will speak to a few people and will get it done by Tuesday.”

Opposition party leader in PMC Chetan Tupe said that it is sad that the football ground is in bad state and students are playing matches on such a ground. “I will speak with the concerned officials and ensure that they at least cut the grass soon to make the ground playable again,” he said.

The under-17 boys event of the Subroto Cup will come to an end on Tuesday with St Vincent’s High School and Bishop’s High School squaring off in the finale. For their entire campaign, the teams have played in the substandard conditions of the PDFA facility at the Dobarwadi ground without batting an eyelid.

“We’re at least fortunate to have a ground to play on and we must be thankful to the PDFA to provide us with the open space needed to play football. The condition of the ground is not ideal, but it is what both sides play on, so the games are at least fair,” said Bishop’s coach Steven Zuzart. However, having fair games and being able to play to one’s fullest capability are two different things.

Another issue that many a head coaches faced throughout the tournament was the 15-minute half system. According to them, there wasn’t sufficient time for players to warm themselves up and get into the game and an alternate system should be considered in the future.

When quizzed about this problem, Dhumane, stated, “I will speak to the head coaches and see what their problem is. We are allocated certain days for certain tournaments and have to finish it within that period of time. However, if there are any issues, we can look into the matter and see what can be done.”

The under-14 tournament commences on Tuesday which will be preceded by the under-17 final. The PMC are now fighting a race against time in order to spruce up the ground and ensure the teenagers have good conditions to play for the Subroto Cup.

First Published: Aug 07, 2018 14:55 IST