Watch: Fans root for Bengaluru FC to stay at Kanteerava
Fans of the club expressed pangs of sorrow over the club shifting its base from the 'fortress' Shree Kanteerava to Pune's Balewadi stadium.
India has been a fertile ground for football leagues, for they have provided a base to what Indian football, in its decade of a resurgence, has come to expect from its crop of young and talented players. But the resurgence is now taken for granted, as most Bengaluru FC fans would concur with. The reason? The city's Shree Kanteerava Stadium once offered significant hints of joy, hope, revival, sustenance, and improvement, but is today dwarfed by the conflict-strewn athletics vs football antipathy.
Bengaluru FC, which has been a breath of fresh air for Indian football, has enlisted the Balewadi Stadium in Pune as their home ground for the next season. But here is not all where it started. The sad state of affairs meant that the club had to keep sharing the stadium with other athletes, but they had strict policies in place when it came to protecting the facilities and the turf on their pitch. This, however, did not sit well with the athletes who often come to practice at the Kanteerava. About two years back, a group of athletes, including former India sprinter Ashwini Nachappa, filed a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) alleging that the club's footballing activities had been hampering their training.
The Karnataka High Court, in turn, directed the state government to conduct an inquiry into the matter and set a deadline till October 14 for the club to use the stadium. With the AFC Cup approaching, the club was required to register a venue to host its home matches by September 15 and at least a month prior to their first home game on October 21 for Indian Super League (ISL).
Speaking exclusively to The Bridge, Ashwini slammed the club, saying,
Sports, in its truest form, boasts of its existence in a win-loss binary, but at the heart of it lies the spirit of tranquility, that sets one's heart to see other disciplines co-exist, peacefully.
A fan exhorted,
Fans of the club, dismayed by the sudden turn of events, expressed pangs of sorrow over the club shifting its base from the 'fortress' Shree Kanteerava to Pune's Balewadi stadium. "It is a very unfortunate incident that can happen. But we hope and pray that the home ground remains in Kanteerava. Nothing can replace this ground. Nothing can replace the atmosphere and the fans. This stadium is like our home and we don't want to replace it. That is a small request from the fans and we will miss our home ground," bemoaned another fan. To rob them of the opportunity to watch the team play in their own city would not only tantamount to a huge loss in opportunity and revenue but would permanently damage the growth of the local football ecosystem.