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The sorry tale of the overused BFF artificial turf

  • Published at 09:43 pm November 19th, 2017
  • Last updated at 10:40 pm November 19th, 2017
The sorry tale of the overused BFF artificial turf
The BFF artificial turf, formerly known as “Arambagh Balur Math”, has been used for more than double its capability which led to it currently being unsuitable for professional practice as many clubs are completely depended on it for training purpose. A second generation turf was first installed in 2011 with the instruction from Fifa to use the turf for less than five hours a day but after field survey at the venue in the last two weeks, it appeared that it has been used for multi-sports purposes for more than 10 hours each day. Apart from the above-mentioned turf, the BFF has two more football grounds in Dhaka, one being the Bangabandhu National Stadium on natural grass and the other being Birsreshtha Mostafa Kamal Stadium in Kamalapur on the recently installed turf. With the exception of only two clubs, the remaining 20 clubs from the premier league and the second-tier league use these three grounds either as home ground or practice field. Besides this, numerous lower division football clubs also train at the ground. The Bangladesh Championship League was held at Kamalapur Stadium from the first week of August to November 11 this year and in these four months at least seven clubs regularly used BFF turf as their main practice ground. Premier league sides Mohammedan Sporting Club Limited and Arambagh Krira Sangha enlisted BFF turf as their main practice field while Rahmatganj Muslim Friends Society, Farashganj Sporting Club and Chittagong Abahani Limited also practise at the ground often. When the turf was installed, one of its key purposes was to increase practice facilities for the national team, as well as the clubs, but it has been used for other activities more often than not. Besides this, an agreement between the federation and the residents of Arambagh was also signed to keep the turf open for the locals as well. Apart from the federation's different events like coaching and referee courses, the field is kept open for the locals from around 3pm till evening and during this time, every inch of the turf is filled with hundreds of sports enthusiasts. The venue is the only open field for the locals in the respective locality. It was seen last week that more than six groups were playing and practising different sports activities. Two groups divided into four teams were playing football, two teams including Azampur Football Academy were training on the western part while most of the eastern half was used for two cricket matches. Saturday, three cricket matches, two football clubs’ practice session and one football game were taking place simultaneously. On both occasions, some teams were seen waiting outside the turf to get space. BFF general secretary Abu Nayeem Shohag sees the activities of locals positively but also didn't forget to mention its over-time use. He said, "We have different coaching trainings throughout the year which take place at this ground. When national teams stay here (BFF House) it is used for their practice. Almost all the BCL clubs practise here. The Arambagh-based clubs and academies also train here regularly." The U-15 national women's team are currently staying at BFF House while AFC “C” license course is also taking place right now. Both use the turf everyday till noon. Shohag added, "Whereas the turf should be used for maximum four to four and half hours per day as instructed by Fifa, it has been used from dawn to dusk every day. By following four-hour a day routine, the turf would have an eight-year longevity, but the turf has been overused since its installation. If you come here during daylight of any given day you will always see some teams using the turf. It's good but it would be better if the turf is properly maintained." But, after talking to the coaches and players who regularly train there, the common complaint that came out is that the turf is not properly maintained. When the turf should be brushed at least three times a week due to its heavy use, the turf is cleaned barely once in a month. Assistant operational manager Mizanur Rahman however, said they brush the turf once every week. The balance between the amount of rubber, synthetic grass and the seeds are not maintained as well. During heavy monsoon rain, some parts of the turf become waterlogged. Mizanur also admitted that the turf is in poor condition and felt the need of upgradation. Putting bamboos inside the venue, the ground was also used for prayers during the last two Eids this year. The ground has no dressing room or toilet beside it as the south-western corner of the field is being used for urinal purposes. Shohag said they would request the National Sports Council to set up a dressing room, two urinals and one washroom at the field. Three years after the then AFC president Mohamed Bin Hammam laid the foundation stone in 2008, the material of the turf was bought from an Italian company titled Limonta Sport while a Thai company named Seara got the job for the installation of the turf. It cost a total of $500,000, covered by the Fifa Goal development project. Limonta started producing third generation football turf in 1998 but the BFF brought the back-dated second generation turf 11 years later.