Bengaluru, January 11: Bengaluru playing host to Santosh Trophy's regional qualifiers at the Bangalore Football Stadium is being endorsed as the beginning of change at the Karnataka State Football Association. In reality, nothing much has really changed as the KSFA has forgotten to provide basic infrastructure to its players.
The dressing room and toilets at the Bangalore Football Stadium are in pitiable condition (see pictures). The restrooms, in particular, have not been given an upgrade in a long time. Anyone walking through the players' tunnel cannot escape the stench of urine that the stadium officials somehow have gotten used to.
Only before the Santosh Trophy South Zone Qualifying Round kicks off on January 17, the KSFA installed a wooden door at the entrance of one of its washrooms on Thursday (January 11). For long, the washroom, the first one on the right side of the players' tunnel, did not have a door.
The toilets were not maintained for days together - even during the Bangalore District Football Association's Super Division and A Division matches. Muck is visible on the urinals and commode and the entire washroom stinks. Local players have to bear the smell on a daily basis and understandably, they don't spend much time in the change rooms.
Some of the urinals do not have pipes to drain the urine away, which more often than not, ends up falling on the feet of whoever is using them. In the absence of a proper sitting area in the dressing room, players usually have to drag plastic chairs into the change rooms.
"It has been this way for the last five years," informs Raj Kiran, a player for CIL FC in the Super Division and a former Santosh Trophy player. "Players have to unfortunately use that when they have to relieve themselves."
Akhilesh Bhat, a player from Income Tax, says he avoids using the toilets. "I don't think anyone has ever taken a dump there. You just cannot. At times, we hold our pee or go behind the bushes when nobody is looking. There about eight change-rooms. Out of them, two were given an uplift because Bengaluru FC and Ozone FC Bengaluru were making use of them. The other six are in a really bad state. Doors are broken and there's no water to wash your hands sometimes!"
Raj Kiran added: "It's harder for women spectators because I have not seen the women's bathroom open on any day. Is there a washroom for women by the way?"
Even though the KSFA has promised an upgrade, these toilets are beyond repair. Reconstructing the stadium's washrooms and maintaining them regularly is the only way. "We've replaced the latrines with new ones," KSFA treasurer AD Nagendra said. "If any of the urinals did not have pipes, we have fixed those. The work has been undertaken by one of the sponsors for the Santosh Trophy. The situation will improve in the coming days."
For the Santosh Trophy South Zone qualifying round, the KSFA plans to install portable toilets for spectators. "We'll install portable toilets all around the stadium for the Santosh Trophy," Nagendra added. "The other toilets are in for an upgrade too."
But installing portable loos is only a short-term solution. After the Santosh Trophy, it will be back to square one for players if they want to relieve themselves.