For the first time in Mumbai Schools Sports Association's (MSSA) 121-year-old history inter-school matches are going to be held on astro-turf.
A view of the newly laid astro-turf at Cooperage
In an informal meeting with Western India Football Association's (WIFA) secretary Souter Vaz and CEO Henry Menezes yesterday, MSSA president Fr Jude Rodrigues mooted the idea of conducting some of their inter-school fixtures at the Cooperage's swanky new FIFA-sanctioned astro-turf surface, and the WIFA officials agreed.
"First, we thought of having only the final of our premier tournament — U-16 Div I League here. But then we felt that it could be a bit unfair to expect the kids to perform well on their maiden appearance on the artificial surface, so we decided to have the tournament's semi-finals at Cooperage too," Fr Jude Rodrigues told mid-day.
Defending champions Don Bosco's (Matunga) coach Leslie Machado said it was a step in the right direction by MSSA. "In the rains, the ground conditions become very heavy and at times even unplayable, but on artificial turf, the game will be well conducted. It's a good move by MSSA," Machado said.
Fr Jude Rodrigues
Adip Kenkre, coach of Bombay Scottish (Mahim), another strong contender for the semi-final spot, said the boys will be excited to play at Cooperage.
"Eventually, it's these very boys who will go on to represent their city or state and play at this same venue in the future, so an early beginning is good," said Kenkre.
Former India custodian Menezes said: "We are yet to procure the No Objection Certificate for Cooperage, but we have assured the MSSA that we will give them full support in putting up chairs and offering other facilities for the U-16 Div I semi-finals (August 6) and the final (August 8)."