GANGTOK, 25 May: The artificial turf laid out at Paljor Stadium is all set to be inaugurated by the Chief Minister on 28 May. With its Astroturf cover spread across a handsome 93,000+ sq feet, Paljor Stadium is now the largest Astroturf in the SAARC Region.
The inauguration will feature an exhibition match between Bhaichung Bhutia’s United Sikkim Football Club [USFC] and Minister’s XI made up of Sikkimese footballers playing in different clubs around the country and some foreign players.
The Astroturf was manufactured by the FieldTurf Tarkett, Georgia, USA, and the project executed by the Great Sports Infrastructure Private Limited. Work began on 01 January this year and completed at a cost of sanctioned cost of Rs 3.77 crores.
Apart from laying the artificial turf, the department had also taken up many renovation works at the stadium.
Addressing a press conference today, the Sports & Youth Affairs Secretary, Karma P Bhutia, mentioned that the entire infrastructure is the contribution of the Chief Minister to the people of Sikkim.
He informed that apart from the cultural programmes, the inaugural function will also have a surprise item during the interval of the exhibition match.
He gave full credit to the officials of the department and other organisations involved on the completion of the project within its scheduled time.
The playing surface is composed of monofilament polyethylene blend fibres tufted into a polypropylene backing. The infill is made up of a bottom layer of silica sand, a middle layer which is a mixture of sand and cryogenic rubber and a top layer of rubber.
The fibres are meant to replicate blades of grass, while the infill acts as a cushion, which improves safety compared to earlier artificial surfaces while still allowing players to “plant and pivot” as if they were playing on a grass field.
Mr Bhutia informed that the surface is also beneficial due to its low-cost maintenance and durability.
He further informed that some teams have practiced on this turf, including Bhaichung and his club, and have given a positive endorsement. Artificial turf is also more suited for Gangtok weather than the plains.
After the inauguration, the ground will be opened for all footballers for regular practice and coaching camps and for other disciplines for fitness. The department will also be issuing the identity cards for regular users to deny access to miscreants to the stadium complex.
He informed that digging and public functions will be avoided at the ground.
He added that the artificial turf will also help footballers improve their technical skills.
He informed that the United Sikkim Football Club has approached the department for use of the Paljor Stadium and the department will provide them the ground on payment of a fee.
The Secretary informed that the department will also take up other developmental and renovation works in the stadium later this year.