Next big thing in football in J&K or Prey to Land Grabbers?


Google Ushkura and the top three search hitsareUshkura branch J&K Bank, Beacon HouseUshkura School and Ushkura monastery.Historically,Ushkurais the ancient city of Hushkapura founded by the Kushanking Huvishka, who succeeded Kanishka. In present times, this part of the Baramulla townmay not hold any recognition, yet it is a much talked about place among the football fraternity – reasonbeing the eagerly awaited state-of-the-art residential football academy planned to be developed by the prestigious J&K State Power Development Corporation (JKSPDC).
JKSPDC, a wholly-owned state PSU of the Government of J&K,besides committed to green energy generation in the state of Jammu and Kashmir is proactive in discharging its Corporate Social Responsibility. Within the ambit of its CSR activities, development of sports infrastructure and grooming of the sporting talent in the state is taken as a priority activity.
Football being a very popular sport in J&K, an initiative to promote this sport was taken by JKSPDC by establishing its official football team in the year2011 in consultation with the J&K Football Association. Systematic approach to team building including a transparent selection process paid quick dividends by winning the Senior Division League tournament conducted by J&K Football Association in the first year of its establishment. This was followed by other major wins including Christmas Gold Cup in Jammu (2012). After a short suspension period, the official football team is up and running again and recently in November, 2017, has emerged as the 2nd runner up in the coveted Police Martyrs tournament organized by the J&K Police.
Apart from running its official football team, JKSPDC has focused on the larger goal of reinstating the past glory of the state as a powerhouse of football by grooming the local talent through a well-structured residential training programme.Accordingly, an ambitious plan of establishing an international standard residential academy with the intake capacity of around 50 resident players was chalked, which was given the nod by the then government in 2013. Theproposed academy envisaged cateringnot only to the state but the whole northern region of the country.
Location – Land being an integral part of the infrastructure project with huge cost implications in present time, it was quite easy for JKSPDC to give shape to the idea due to availability of existing infrastructure at Ushkara, Baramulla comprising of adequate open area and a large number of buildings. Besides, the site was thought to be ideally located for a football academy being in the close proximity of the Baramulla town (behind St. Joseph High School) at a distance of less than 300 mts from National Highway. Originally,the site was a residential complex for the engineers and other staff involved in the construction of 105 MW LJHP, which was commissioned in late 70’s. With the successful commissioning of the LJHP in late 70s, the residential buildings felt vacant, and simultaneously the site felt prey to the neighbouring land encroachers, During the break down of law and order of the state, this colony was occupied mostly by unauthorized elements which became a source of great resentment in the area adjoining the colony. It was with great difficulty that JKSPDC could get the colony evicted from these elements for the proposed football academy.
Cost – As per the project DPR (Detailed Project Report), theestimated cost of the project is Rs. 10.37 crore.
Completion Time – It was scheduled to be completed within a span of 2 years starting 2013-14 as per the original timelines set up in the DPR.
Football field:The academy will have an international size football ground with (115mx75m) playing area and minimum 1 m safety area on all sides for the players. The field will be provided turf with natural grass as per the guidelines .The entire field will be provided camber to facilitate natural drainage on all sides. The playing field area will be secured by chain link fencing on all sides. Surface drain will run all along the periphery of the field to cater the natural drain water of the field which will be connected with the main drain for its disposal to keep the ground clear from any water logging. The field will be provided with areas for fourth referee and technical areas on both sides of the fourth referee as per the guidelines of the sports authorities. Modern techniques for irrigation and other maintenance requirements of the field will also be in place.
Futsal fields–Futsal being a proven skill honing game which increases technical and tactical speed, the main football field will be supplemented by two number futsal fields on its northern and the western sides.
Pavilion block:The academy will have a double storied building (pavilion building) on the eastern side of the football field. The building is sufficiently distant from the fencing of the football field. The ground floor of the building will have two change rooms for the match playing teams with seating facilities, space for massage areas and separate wash rooms. It will also have space for change room of the referees. The first floor will accommodate seating area for VIP’s and media gallery for watching the games.
Multipurpose block: A three-story building is proposed to be constructed on the western side pavilion block. The ground floor of building will have dining hall for the players along with kitchen storage area.
Gymnasium: A gymnasium and recreation area will also be part of the multi-purpose block. The gymnasium will be equipped with all modern facilities for fitness training of the residents. The 1stand 2nd floor will be used by players for boarding. Dormitory accommodation is provided in the plan for the players in these floors with combined bathroom blocks.
Swimming Pool:The academy will have a swimming pool on the western side of the football field adjacent to the futsal field is also planned to be set-up for the resident trainees.
No doubt that the proposed academy will usher in a new era of modern footballing setup in the state, critical analysis of the proposal at the nascent stage assumes much importance. While the idea is noble, the execution has hardly complemented it. The academy was given the nod in 2013, but like all other state projects, this projects has also gone to the dogs. For one reason of the other, the project has failed to pick up despite grand inauguration by the then Chief Minister in September 2013.Moreover, authorities have failed to uphold the sanctity of the commitments of the CM of the state.

This academy would become a real success if the design is developed by an international level consultant. Since residential academy is still an alien concept in the country, international expertise from the design stage would only augment the purpose of establishment of the academy, albeit at an incremental cost. Down the timeline, Ushkura colony may or may not have become football academy, but let it not be prey to land grabbers and unwanted elements!
Views are author’s personal. Can be reached at [email protected]

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