MU chess champions forced to stand during 8-hour train journey
The six chess players were representing Mumbai University at an inter-university championship in Ahmedabad; parents blame MU authorities for poor arrangements
In yet another instance of official apathy towards sportspersons, six chess players from Mumbai University were forced to stand for the entire duration of an eight-hour train journey to Ahmedabad and sleep on the floor once they got there because MU officials allegedly failed make the proper arrangements for their participation in an inter-university tournament.
The six students have crossed the eliminations stage and will participate in the finals in New Delhi next week
Despite the players representing the university, the authorities were seemingly so unconcerned about whether they won or lost that instead of having a chess coach accompany the students, they sent a football coach instead.
And yet, in a testament to the students’ determination, they managed to sail though the eliminations and reach the finals of the tournament, which will be held in New Delhi next week.
“The students were informed about the tournament three weeks before it began through the University of Mumbai and still their tickets were not confirmed. Even after reaching the venue, students had to struggle and sleep on mattresses on the floor, while other teams were given proper beds.
Is this how the university treats its sports champions?” asked Anil Singh, a parent of one of the participants. The students reached Ahmedabad on the night of October 26, and ended up sharing a room with another team as they had reached late. There were no beds available for them and they had to sleep on mattresses spread on the floor.
They also had to arrange for their food by themselves on the first night. “Instead of a chess coach, the students were accompanied by a football coach, leaving them with nobody to discuss their strategies with before or after the games, which is unacceptable,” Singh told mid-day.
A day after the students reached the Ahmedabad venue, one of them informed his parents about the problems they were facing. Incidentally, two of the participants are children of university lecturers. “I confronted the pro-vice chancellor about the incident and he immediately got in touch with the sports department in-charge.
After much discussion, they finally booked the return tickets for our kids through the Tatkal quota, and managed to get RAC seats for four of the six students. The other two ended up travelling by bus,” said the mother of another participant.
She also complained that the students are yet to receive any certificates attesting to their victory at the eliminations in Ahmedabad. “These same students had made it to the finals last year as well, and we haven’t received the certificates for that championship till date,” she added.
Repeat in Delhi?
Parents and students are also unhappy about the lack of interest being shown by university authorities in sending these children to the finals in Delhi next week. The students are slated to leave on Saturday, but the tickets that have been booked are on the waiting list and students are worried about a repeat of the Ahmedabad horror.
“While there are super-fast trains available, our children have been booked on the Dehradun Express, which takes nearly 30 hours to reach Delhi. Officials have told us that the longer route was chosen because student concessions were available only on a few trains,” said Singh.
He added that while students from most other universities usually participate in such tournaments in blazers sponsored by their home universities, that is not the case with MU. “After we pointed this out to the university officials, our children were told that they would be given blazers if any are left over from other championships. How do they expect to encourage students like this?” Singh asked.
The other side
When mid-day tried to talk to university officials, the sports department in-charge, Uttam Kendre, was unavailable for comment. University Pro-Vice Chancellor Naresh Chandra, however, said that they have received a complaint in the matter. “The tickets were booked in advance, but they couldn’t get confirmed.
We, however, ensured that the students got RAC tickets on the return journey. Our students will now be going to Delhi for the finals, and I have already informed the sports department to make sure that these students face no more hurdles,” said Chandra.
He further added that students will receive their certificates for the victory in the elimination stage, and news of their success will also be circulated in their respective colleges soon. “Everything will be followed as per the rules,” Chandra said.
Participants, however, are anxious about their tickets to Delhi remaining unconfirmed and the kind of facilities that they will get. “Last time, the facilities provided to us in Ahmedabad were so bad that four of us came back with stomach infections. I hope our university takes better precautions in Delhi to help us concentrate on our games and bring home the winners’ trophy,” said one of the participants.