Armoury grounds in Bistupur on Wednesday. Picture by Bhola Prasad
Jamshedpur West MLA Banna Gupta threw open the gates of Armoury grounds to general public on Wednesday. Over the past six months, the Tata Steel-owned green lung was being used to conduct Under-10 and Under-12 training programmes of Tata Football Academy (TFA) and entry of outsiders had been prohibited.
This had irked scores of sports enthusiasts and morning walkers who were regular visitors to the grounds.
Around 6.30 am on Wednesday, Gupta forced private security guards to open the locks on the gates and barged into the greens with sports enthusiasts. The Congress legislator also played soccer for a while.
“I will see to it that Armoury grounds remains open to general public. As an elected representative, it’s my duty to look into the problems of people. Where will sports enthusiasts and morning walkers go if they are debarred from entering grounds. We will again play football here and see who stops us,” Gupta told The Telegraph.
He added that people had been using the grounds for several years and suddenly their entry was stopped. “There are very few green lungs in Jamshedpur. Where will people go,” Gupta asked.
Earlier, children and youths from Sakchi, Bistupur, Dhatkidih and even Jugsalai flocked to play at the grounds. “We have been coming here for several years to play cricket early in the morning. But now, security guards stop us from entering the venue. We don’t have any other place to play,” rued Bistupur-resident Santosh Singh (22).
Functionaries of Jharkhand Women’s Football Association, which has been barred from conducting selection trials at the venue, have lauded Gupta’s move. “Armoury grounds was our regular venue for holding selection trials. But, now it has become a thing of the past. Gupta has done a wonderful job,” said a functionary, requesting anonymity.
Sources from TFA said they used the grounds to train budding footballers.
“We train our cadets at the TFA grounds. We wanted a separate venue to conduct Under-10 and Under-12 training sessions,” said an official, refusing to be named. He added that TFA carried out maintenance of the green lung.
Tata Steel sports department senior manager Charles Borommeo said he would visit the grounds and try to sort things out.
“I will try to seek a solution by talking to the affected people,” he added.
Outsiders do not permission to play at Gopal Maidan and JRD Tata Sports Complex either.
However, the venues are open to morning walkers.