GA.Atoll, Maldives – After the mat on a futsal pitch in GA.Villingilli was set on fire last night, it has been reported that the arson was committed after the Ministry of Youth failed to change the turf on the pitch as promised.
In an interview to local news outlet “Sun”, some youth of Villingilli stated that the current mat on the pitch has continued to cause injuries to players, and that they have repeatedly requested authorities to change it to a better turf.
While the government promised that the mat would be changed before 2020 ends, this was not done.
Statements by the Villingilli Council President Mohamed Mustafa also hinted that the arson was motivated by delays in changing the turf.
In an interview to Sun, Mustafa said that in December 2018, Youth Minister Ahmed Mahloof met with some youth in the area, and during discussions it was decided that the mat would be replaced.
However, even after the council sent all required plans to the government, and requested for the turf multiple times in a year, no progress was made.
After another visit by Youth Ministry officials in February 2020, youth representatives requested yet again for the mat to be changed, to which the officials claimed that the turf will be provided before the end of the year.
While officials failed to fulfill this vow, 2 days before the pitch was set on fire, Minister Mahloof made a comment on Facebook that due to the football pitch currently being built in Villingilli, he has stated numerous times that the turf cannot be provided as the government is prioritizing other islands that do not have such facilities.
Mustafa however, refuted Mahloof’s claims, stating that the council has received no such notice regarding the promised turf, but that during discussions with Mahloof, the minister did state that the government is proitoizng football pitches instead of futsal pitches.
The futsal pitch, built by the previous administration in the local Youth Centre, is the only futsal pitch in the island, and with it now damaged by the fire, youth say that no one is currently able to play the sport on the island.