Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Do we need artificial football pitches in India?

All you need to know about artificial football pitches is in the shared Guardian article.

I am trying to analyse this in the Indian context.

I have always been circumspect about the proliferation of art-pitches in Indian football stadiums. This drive saw a decent grass pitch in the Bangalore football stadium being replaced with a art-pitch. I was surprised, because the Bangalore football stadium pitch was a decent enough pitch by Indian standards. 

I am not a big fan of art-pitches in football, but i think it is time we ponder upon this. The opinion differs from people to people. Stadiums across the world have installed art-pitches even though it is not very popular in U.K. Playing on a grass pitch offers a zizekian type of mental satisfaction but the serious impacts on environment, especially in summer, to maintain a grass pitch should motivate us to think the other way. 

Grass pitches need good maintenance. It would be absolutely difficult in Indian conditions to maintain a perfect grass football pitch. Considering that most football stadiums are owned by the local municipal/corporation authorities, when summer hits and drought sets in, watering and maintaining a football pitch would be the last thing on their mind.

Pitches also effect the pace of a football match. There is a considerable difference in the pace of a football match in i-league, when it is played on an artificial pitch. The wobbly, patchy grass pitches tend to cut out the fluidity of movement. As broadcast is the main source of money for any football league, a match played on a wobbly surface will be utterly boring. Turn on Tenaction + and watch an I-league match played in the Salt Lake Stadium and you will understand what i am trying to say.

On a short term, artificial pitches could prove a great deal in developing football in India. It will offer a great playing surface where kids can replicate their skills to perfection that they learn from Television and Youtube. Good pitches will also make I-league matches more "visually appealing". When football associations start owning stadiums, we can think of grass pitches.

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