New Delhi: If the All India Football Federation has its way, the Jawaharlal Nehru stadium will soon have a turf, which will be the best in the country, AIFF general secretary Kushal Das said.
Sports Minister Ajay Maken had declared the stadium as the hub of football in the country, allowing the federation to use it for 40 days every year.
"It is heartening to see that our dynamic sports minister has shown interest in football, a sport that needs development. We are building a new football pitch that will be the best in the country. The SAFF Cup (the December 2-11 event will be held at the venue) will be followed by more international matches," Das said.
"We are looking to develop football in the country," he added.
And with the Sports Ministry keen to turn the multi-sport stadium into a football hub, Das felt that the SAFF Cup will help "develop that hub".
"The ministry of sports and SAI were very keen to develop football into a priority sport," Das said.
AIFF had signed a Memorandum Of Understanding (MOU) with SAI to hold 40 matches a year at the JLN and, Das felt, it will help in terms of raising the profile of the sport.
The federation has also been given the permission to use the outside practice ground of the stadium free of cost for 50 days in a year along with other necessary facilities available in the stadium for the smooth conduct of national and international football tournaments.
Besides the SAFF Cup, the AIFF also has plans to host the Nehru Cup football tournament in 2012, other international and domestic tournaments as well as hold coaching camps and clinics in the remaining days.
Das said the AIFF`s primary focus now is youth and grassroot development.
"The idea is to create academies in the next few months," he said.