Ground Reality:Valley’s ‘best’ playfield Polo Ground left to rot
Rated among the best football fields in the country, city central Polo Ground is fast losing its sheen as the caretakers, J&K State Sports Council has left it to rot in absence of proper maintenance and planning.
In 2008, J&K hosted Santosh Trophy football championship and Polo Ground central got its major uplift in the shape of new turf and spectator stands. During the event, All India Football Federation (AIFF) officials termed Polo Ground field as one of the best in the country and visiting teams also gave their thumbs up for it.
However in September 2014, the then Chief Minister Omar Abdullah inaugurated the first synthetic turf football field at TRC ground. The inauguration was followed by the floods that wrecked whole city and playing fields as well.
After the floods Sports Council reinstated Synthetic Turf completely but did not care much for the Polo Ground central. Even the JKFA that is the main body to organize football events in JK, shifted its base to TRC. For the past three years, the Sports Council and JKFA have not held any major football event at the Polo ground. All the events both national and locals are being held at Synthetic Turf.
In absence of top level competition, the custodian of field Sports Council don't care much about its maintenance and the turf that was laid in 2008 is almost lost. The field is full of path holes, uneven turf and high grass.
Divisional Sports Officer, JKSSC Nuzhat Ara said that field is in proper order and we encourage children's to do training there.
"I think it is in proper order and we encourage children's to train there. For main events we have seen all the organizations making Synthetic Turf their first preference," she said.
However, the sports fraternity holds a contrary view.
Former Sports Council Member Bashir Ahmad Malik said that both JKFA and Council should be blamed for its current condition.
"It was during Santosh Trophy when we developed Polo Ground. I was happy that I was able to contribute in giving Valley something in shape of polo Ground. However, I never knew that it will be left to rot after the arrival of Synthetic Turf field in Kashmir," Malik said.