The synthetic turf pitch laid in Male in summer 2002 had an immediate psychological effect on the island's football. Overnight, there was no need to play on parched, worn-out fields any more because there was a manicured, level artificial turf pitch ready for use. Administrative matters were quickly settled thanks to the national association's initiative and Government support and the pitch was laid in barely four months. The pitch was originally intended as a training ground for the national team. But the urge to play in Male is so great that now boys and girls from local schools are chasing the ball at the same time as their idols. Older generations in the capital use the ground as their daily meeting point and marvel at how the turf manages to retain its emerald hue. After some initial scepticism, the Maldives
' top players are now thrilled with the new investment. Remarks like «It's easier to play on this turf than in the national stadium»or «The ball rolls as if it were a grass surface» suggest that the future of football in countries such as the Maldives
can only mean artificial turf. As part of the second stage in the Goal project, new association headquarters are being built adjacent to the artificial turf pitch and will be inaugurated in summer 2004. The Government donated this piece of land too and the costs are being shared with the FIFA Financial Assistance Programme.