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Astroturf revamp on course

The state sports department has promised to complete the renovation of Astroturf Hockey Stadium in Morabadi, Ranchi, by January 20 for the second edition of Hockey India League (HIL), after missing an earlier deadline.

Now, the department is racing against time to deck up the venue for the league that will kick off in Mohali on January 25.

This season, the city of Ranchi Rhinos — the local franchisee that won the previous edition — will host as many as nine matches, including the semi-finals and the final.

Department sources said the stadium would be ready for action by the time teams from across the country arrive in the state capital to play.

According to Hockey Jharkhand officials, quality light, proper sanitation facilities, smooth turf and goal posts were the primary concerns and almost 90 per cent of the work had been completed.

Hockey Jharkhand treasurer Suresh Kumar Singh said, “The Astroturf has already been cleaned up and new goal posts have been installed. Currently, labourers are readying the galleries and other facilities.”

Sources said a fresh coat of paint was being applied on the galleries and staircases. Also, new toilets have been constructed to ensure better sanitation.

Most importantly, Singh added, the floodlights have been tested to avert a repeat of last year’s mishaps that caused a major embarrassment for the organisers and the state.

Last year, two of the four floodlights had developed snags during two matches, including the final, as some of the bulbs had turned defunct.

“The bulbs have been replaced and everything has been tested properly. We want to make it a smooth and glitch-free event this time,” he claimed.

Sports director Dadan Choubey said, “We are leaving no stone unturned to prepare a clean and neat stadium. It will be fit for playing by January 20.”

He added that the players would not face any problem as the facility would be ready much before their arrival.

HIL tournament director Todd Faulds had given a poor feedback when he visited the Astroturf Stadium in November last year.

Consequently, state sports minister Geetashree Oraon had asked officials to ensure all was in place by December 31.

But, officials could complete only 30 per cent of the work till then, forcing the department to extend the deadline further.

Last year, Jharkhand surprised many with huge turnouts in almost all the matches.

The state’s love for hockey skyrocketed when the Ranchi Rhinos surpassed all expectations and won the inaugural edition of the league.

With the Rhinos playing to defend the title, the organisers are expecting to break the last year’s records.

Will the state be able to meet the revamp deadline?

Tell ttkhand@abpmail.com