Stuck in procedural delays for nearly two years, Indore's first astroturf hockey ground is finally set to witness the light of the day in 18 months time, Madhya Pradesh's Sports and Welfare department said.
District Sports Officer Joseph Baxla informed that the state government has finally accepted the proposal to build an astoturf hockey pitch in five acres of land in suburban Bijalpur area of the city.
"The astroturf hockey pitch in Indore with a cost of Rs 5 crore is expected to come up in 18 months," Baxla said.
Baxla also said that there was a proposal to build an astroturf in the city-based Prakash Hockey Club's ground in the Residency area but it was scrapped as the developer found the space inadequate.
The Indore Municipal Corporation (IMC) had later turned that space into a waste disposal centre. "That's why the turf for hockey could not come up and the IMC took possession of the land," Baxla said. Since then former Indian hockey team goalkeeper Mir Ranjan Negi, who was inspiration behind the Bollywood blockbuster 'Chak De India', had been advocating the need for an astroturf in Indore.
Devoid of basic infrastructure, Negi had been forced to impart hockey skills to poor children of the city on a footpath.
"I am training 125 children mostly poor, on a footpath attached to the district jail's boundary wall in Residency area," the 62-year-old Negi told PTI on Tuesday.
He said most of his trainees were members of city based Prakash Hockey Club, which established in 1940.
Negi also said that he had written to Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan, requesting him to set up an astroturf for hockey inside the city's Devi Ahilya Vishwavidyalaya campus.
"I request hockey lover Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan to build an astroturf for hockey in Indore as soon as possible," he said.
"The city needs a ground desperately for the revival off hockey."