Bubbled in Goa

By on November 19, 2020
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Goa turns epicentre of the 7th edition of the prestigious Hero Indian Super League (ISL) 2020-21 from November to March, within a bio-secured environment across three refurbished venue

Season 7 of Hero Indian Super League (Hero ISL) 2020-21 is all about ‘firsts’ and ‘never befores’. For the first time since its inception, the entire edition of India’s top-tier football league will be hosted behind closed doors,
within a bio-secure bubble – cut off from the outside world – in Goa at three venues. To eliminate the risk of infection from the widespread
COVID-19 pandemic, players, coaches, referees, club staff, and tournament officials will be confined to a secure space, thus restricting physical interaction with those outside the bubble. The decision comes after a successful
implementation of a similar isolation plan at the Indian Premier League 2020-21 (IPL) held at Abu Dhabi, Sharjah and Dubai.
The seventh edition will witness 11 teams in action, including the new entrant SC East Bengal and the recently rechristened ATK Mohun Bagan FC, with new faces on and off the pitch.
Founder and chairperson of Football Sports Development Limited (FSDL) Nita Ambani said, “I am delighted to bring the ISL Season 7 to Goa, from where we had left the action last season.
“Over the last six years, ISL has played a key role in helping Indian football find its rightful place in the global arena. In this short period, we have crossed several remarkable milestones – ISL’s recent membership of the
World League Forum, City Football Group’s investment in Mumbai City FC, ATK’s merger with Mohun Bagan, and ISL’s emergence as the fourth-most popular league on social media with 38 million fan interactions. These are all
indicators of the phenomenal rise of Indian football,” she added.
Goa’s passion for the sport is unparalleled. It is the only state in the country to declare football an official game, a vision of late chief minister Manohar Parrikar who orchestrated the decision in 2012.
Besides being the official venue for FC Goa’s home matches since 2014, Goa hosted the finals twice: in 2015 and early this year. Hosting an entire season of ISL can be challenging, but fruitful, because the opportunity will widen
Goa’s horizons as a standalone sports venue.
Secretary to CM, Tourism & Sports Ashok Kumar said,
  “Sports can be a great game changer as it connects with the masses and has a large audience. Football is becoming a synonym to Goa as the State Sport. The

league is looked forward to as an opportunity to push the much-needed adrenaline into the state and India.” Revamped Venues Football is predominant in Goa with even remote villages having their own grounds. Small-scale tournaments and championships are common. Three main venues – Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Fatorda; Tilak Maidan in
Vasco-da-Gama & GMC Athletic Stadium at Bambolim –
will host all the action of Hero ISL during Season 7. The 11
teams competing in the league are also provided with safe,
secured and equipped training arenas in serene villages
across the state. Tournaments and international sporting events held
in Goa in the past, such as the Lusofonia Games, AFC Championship in 2016, FIFA U-17 World Cup in 2017 and year-after-year FC Goa matches, have led to an automatic creation and maintenance of existing infrastructure. “Apart from maintenance work, no expenditure on infrastructure is required. All these venues have previously hosted
large-scale sporting events and do not require substantial
upgradation solely on account of ISL, Kumar pointed out.
To ensure ISL clubs have access to state-of-theart infrastructure, league organiser Football Sports Development Limited (FSDL) is working closely with the Sports Authority of Goa (SAG), Goa Football Association
(GFA) and the state administration to ensure a safe and secure season. FSDL has drawn up an extensive plan to
   undertake upgradation from pitch and drainage refurbishment/maintenance, floodlights and competition area uplift, including player dressing rooms, at
each of the three stadiums. Nita Ambani said, “The league believes that the infrastructure upgrade at the three main venues and training pitches will go a long way to further establish Goa’s emphasis in promoting football as the main sport in the state and provide viable options to host key national footballing events in the future.”

Read the full article in 'Viva Goa' magazine copy.

Viva Goa magazine is now on stands. Available at all major book stalls and supermarkets in Goa.

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