FIFA U-17 WC: Goel disappointed with lack of progress in Kochi

The Local Organising Committee of FIFA U-17 World Cup had earlier this month asserted that Kochi was on its way to complete preparation work by May 15.

The Union Sports Minister Vijay Goel with local organising committee officials at the Nehru Stadium in Kochi. Goel was in Kochi to see the progress of work at the Nehru Stadium and the four training venues for this October's under-17 FIFA World Cup.   -  Thulasi Kakkat

Just when he appeared to have wound up his trip of the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium here on Fridayafternoon, Union Sports Minister Vijay Goel caught the FIFA under-17 World Cup’s Kochi organising committee officials off guard.

"Where’s the toilet,” he asked. “I want to have a look.”

The nearest washroom from the stadium’s conference hall, where Goel had his review meeting of Kochi’s preparations for this October’s World Cup and where he interacted with the media, was not yet ready.

So he was taken to one of the players’ dressing rooms some distance away where things were slightly better. Without power, it was dark inside the washroom and mobile phone lights were quickly switched on to help the minister.
He was quick to spot the metal sheets that made up the washroom’s roof.

“You need to have a false ceiling here and if the roof is sloping, have a sloping false ceiling,” said Goel to an official who said that the slope could be a problem.

DISAPPOINTED OVER DELAY

And while speaking to A.P.M. Mohammed Hanish, the Kerala Government’s Nodal Officer for the World Cup, the minister made it very clear that he was worried whether all the work would be completed on time.

“We are much behind schedule, we were supposed to complete the work by March 31. Though I’m disappointed over the delay in completing the various works, the officers have promised me that most of the work, especially the Nehru Stadium will be complete by May 15.”

‘HERE TO PUSH THE PANIC BUTTON’

Goel stressed that the local officials must ensure that all works are done with utmost urgency and that he would be monitoring the work personally.

“There is not much time to discuss the reasons for the delay but I’m here to push their panic button that the Sports Ministry is very serious about the preparation of this World Cup venue. The prestige of the Central and State Governments are involved here and our Prime Minister wants world-class arrangements so I am taking personal interest in the preparations.”

He revealed that some works, like floodlights at the four training venues may be given a small extension of dates but for the Nehru Stadium, the deadline was May 15 which included painting and all cleaning works.
“If necessary, I will visit this venue again and will monitor it. I will be happy to reward them if they complete by May 15 or else… I don’t know.”

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