Goa Football Association (GFA) President Elvis Gomes termed the controversial decision to allow a five-day cricket festival on the Cuncolim Football Ground as disappointing. Gomes said that the ground was among the five which was bestowed with one of the best football turfs during the Lusofonia Games as practice grounds for football.
“The ground is a symbol of pride for the football fraternity where even the Indian national team practices and top notch competitions are possible. However the DSYA has set a wrong precedent by allowing it to be used for purposes other than for football. Many have expressed concern over this development” said Gomes expressing hope that the Directorate of Sports and Youth Affairs (DSYA) would reconsider the decision and maintain the sanctity of the ground.
Gomes also said that GFA would formally protest to the Government as it was awaiting responses from member clubs to take up the issue.
The Cuncolim Football Ground has traditionally been a hotbed of footballing talent for players from different generations. Inspirational footballers like the late Basilio Menezes (Tata Sports Club, Mumbai) and even India captains like Mahesh Gawli across generations have been groomed and nurtured on the haloed surface.
The ground has currently been earmarked by FIFA as a training venue for the FIFA U17 World Cup to be held in 2017 in which Goa has been listed as a most likely key venue, and an AIFF team is likely to inspect the ground again next week as a probable venue for the AFC U-16 Competition slated to be held in September 2016 as a curtain raiser to the World Cup. All India Football Federation (AIFF) President Praful Patel had once even suggested that the AIFF Academy should be set up at Cuncolim.