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After cricket, soccer mania to grip Dhanbad
- Shop, eat and make merry at three-day football carnival in September

Towering sixes, elegant boundaries, stinging bouncers and of course the pretty pom-pom girls — the coal capital thought that it had seen it all during the inaugural edition of the Dhanbad Premier League (DPL).

That till the Dhanbad Football Association came along on Thursday and mooted the idea of Dhanbad Football Carnival, a three-day gala at the coal capital’s Golf Grounds, which will mix music, masti and shopping, as eight teams battle it out on the turf.

The carnival, scheduled to kick off in September, will see all its eight teams or franchises being auctioned out to private owners like the DPL.

Though the schedule of events is yet to be drawn, assistant general manager of Dhanbad Football Association Zubair Alam said that Golf Grounds would be divided into four parts with four matches being played simultaneously from 4pm to 8pm daily under floodlights.

A team can field a maximum of five players, including a goalkeeper, at a time. Hence, with lesser number of players, the matches too will be of 30 minutes — instead of the normal 90 minutes — divided into two halves, with a five-minute breather in between.

“Some national and international-level players will be allowed to take part but we are yet to take a final call on it,” said treasurer of the association Pramod Kapur.

“A team will have eight-ten players, which might include one international player and two national-level players. The others will be local players selected on the basis of their performances in district-level matches,” said joint secretary of the football association Subhash Lodh, adding that registered referees of the football association would officiate in all the matches.

Alam also stressed that, unlike the DPL fiasco when two teams got “unfair” walkovers into the final after a semi-final match was washed out, the soccer matches would continue even if the rains play spoilsport.

Prodded about the entertainment quotient, which might very likely give the glamour of DPL a run for its money, the general manager said 60 stalls selling and displaying various items, mostly related to sports, would be set up on the sidelines. “There will be kiosks selling fast food and sports gear like footballs and tracksuits. We are also in talks with some automobile majors and would try and get them to set up stalls at the venue,” Alam said.

The fixture of the matches is likely to be announced in the last week of August.


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