Bengaluru, March 21: Revolutions have always had humble beginning, rumbling progress and explosive denouement. An emotional tweet by Malayalam writer N S Madhavan has set in motion such a movement - #SaveKochiTurf.
Beautifully made football turf of JLN Stadium, Kaloor - made at great cost for ISL &U-17 - will have to be dug up for proposed ODI at Kochi. Give the match to TVM or get drop-down pitches, if viable. Stop vandalism.— N.S. Madhavan (@NSMlive) March 19, 2018
MyKhel looks at various angles of this sporting storm surrounding the India's ODI match against the West Indies in November.
The BCCI has allotted the ODI between India and West Indies in November to Kochi and the Kerala Cricket Association want to conduct the match in Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, Kaloor, Kochi, a venue that it has taken on lease from Greater Cochin Development Authority (GCDA) till 2043.
The venue, decked up and relaid to match FIFA standards for the U17 World Cup 2017, is the home venue of ISL side Kerala Blasters and the ODI clashes with its home league schedule. Moreover, the field needed to be dug to prepare a cricket pitch and the football aficionados have gone all out against it.
Worried about the potential damage to the FIFA approved World class Football turf in Kochi. Urge the KCA to take the right decision where cricket (Thiruvananthapuram) and Football (Kochi) can happily coexist. pic.twitter.com/rs5eZmhFDP— Sachin Tendulkar (@sachin_rt) March 20, 2018
Spoke to CoA Chief VinodRai to denounce Kerala Cricket Assn's bizarre decision to transfer the India-WI ODI from a match-ready Trivandrum stadium to Kochi, whose ground was last used for the U17 Football World Cup. He has promised to review the matter. KCA motives highly suspect— Shashi Tharoor (@ShashiTharoor) March 19, 2018
We football fans in India have small joys and reasons to be happy about. A proper football pitch is one of them. Let's not snatch that away, even if it's for a little while.#SaveKochiTurf— Sunil Chhetri (@chetrisunil11) March 20, 2018
Subsequent to Madhavan's tweet, Kerala Blasters FC players CK Vineeth and Ian Huime backed the save turf campaign. Sachin Tendulkar, co-owner of Kerala Blasters, and Shashi Tharoor MP too have come out in open supporting this move, giving a fillip to football lovers' demand to shift the ODI to Greenfield Sports Hub in Thiruvanathapuram, which has hosted a T20I successfully last year. India football team skipper Sunil Chhetri too came out supporting the call to shift cricket.
After a meeting with the representatives of all the stakeholders - Kerala Cricket Association, Kerala Football Association and ISL - on Wednesday (March 21) it has been decided to explore the possibilities of staging cricket and football simultaneously in Kochi. The opinion of the Kerala Government too will be taken into consideration - N Mohanan, GCDA Chairman.
We can assure that the turf on the Kochi stadium will not be damaged post staging a cricket match. After all, we are maintaining the ground after taking it on lease till 2043 - Jayesh George, KCA Secretary.
We have no issues in conducting the cricket match in the Kochi stadium if that does not harm the turf and it does not in any way affect Kerala Blasters' ISL matches - K A M Mather, KFA President.
The grapevine has it that the match could be shifted to Thiruvanathapuram after the intervention of power centres like Tendulkar and Tharoor.
Meanwhile, Thiruvananthpuram District Cricket Association president Vinod questioned the move to conduct the ODI in Kochi that was originally allotted to the Kerala's capital city. He has sent a letter to KCA asking for the reasons behind shifting the venue unilaterally.
1. KCA has taken the Jawaharlal Nehru International stadium for lease from GCDA in 2013 for a period of 30 years.
2. KCA has spent Rs 10 crore to renovate the stadium, including the installation of floodlits and generators in the stadium.
3. KCA has given the GCDA Rs 10 lakh every year after signing the lease agreement in 2013.
4. KCA continued to maintain the ground even during the ISL matches.
5. KCA handed over the ground renovation work to FIFA for a period of one year in 2016 in preparation for the U17 World Cup.
6 FIFA has spent approximately Rs 25 crore to renovate the ground to meet its standards, especially in fire safety.