Some of the players playing in the Mumbai Schools Sports Association (MSSA) tournaments are forced to carry their own water bottles to the St Xavier's ground (Parel) instead of using the water cooler that was installed at the ground last month.
School kids look at the lock on the water cooler at St. Xavier's ground after their Ahmed Sailor football knockout clash yesterday. Pic/Suresh KK
This is because the Mumbai District Football Association (MDFA) officials keep the cooler locked at most times, citing security reasons. Ironically, the cooler was gifted to MDFA by MSSA.
Yesterday, during a MSSA boys U-16 Ahmed Sailor knockout match between St Xavier's (Fort) and Bright Start (Tardeo), that the Fort outfit won 10-0, the water cooler was locked. The cooler was opened for use after the match was over. By then, most of the players had left the ground.
An inter-school coach said that clean drinking water is a must for any football match.
"Water is the basic requirement for any player before and after the match. At St Xavier's ground, there is no water, no proper toilets, and no showers.
I understand that renovation is going on, but with a water cooler in place, I am sure they can give them that. Sadly, the kids are deprived even of water. The players continue to get their water from home or purchase water from outside."
Udayan Banerjee, Honorary Secretary of MDFA, said, "The reason we keep the cooler locked is because the local boys are wasting water and trying to damage it. We will ensure that from next time this is not repeated."
Meanwhile, MSSA general secretary Sebastian Fernandes said that he would talk to MDFA officials about the issue.
"The purpose of getting the water cooler was to ensure that players get pure drinking water. It is wrong on MDFA's part to lock the cooler when the matches are on. I will ensure that next time kids get water on time."