Given that the Mumbai Schools Sports Association (MSSA) is over a century old and their inter-school football tourneys are one of the most prestigious events in the city, it’s sad to see the Association falter time and again.

GD Somani coach Jeffery Campus (right) officiates an U-8 match between Don Bosco and Navy Children yesterday. Pic/Suresh KK

On Monday, the scheduled 8am under-8 playoff between defending champions Don Bosco (Matunga) and St Joseph’s (Malad) at Azad Maidan began over an hour late as the groundsmen, who are supposed to mark the field of play, arrived only at 8:30am. However, it was not the groundsmen’s fault because it was the MSSA authorities themselves who had rostered them for an 8:30am shift knowing that there was a game scheduled at 8am. Then, yesterday, again at the under-8 playoffs — Don Bosco (Matunga) vs Navy Children (Colaba) and GD Somani vs Sacred Heart (Santacruz) — the groundsmen were on time, but the referees were missing.

Eventually, GD Somani coach Jeffery Campus volunteered to officiate the match between Bosco’s and Navy Children, venue in-charge Steven Fernandes was forced to conduct the second match between GD Somani and Sacred Heart. Later in the day, MSSA football secretary Anslem Alphonso was also seen conducting some of the matches as there was still no sign of the referees.

Alphonso said it was the Bombay Referee Association’s (BRA) job to supply referees. “I was not aware that there were no referees till venue in-charge Steven called me at 9am. When I contacted BRA general secretary Anthony Pinto, he said that the referee did not turn up due to personal reasons,” said Alphonso.

Pinto, however, blamed the MSSA for the blunder. “There is always a lack of clear communication from MSSA’s side.

They ask us to arrange for referees at the last minute — they call post-9pm for an early morning kickoff. Also, no proper fixtures are provided to us in advance,” said Pinto.

Meanwhile, in the playoffs, Don Bosco beat Navy Children 3-0 to enter the quarters. For Don Bosco, skipper
Zash Ferro, Vighnesh Shetty and Andron Christopher scored a goal each. In the other match, Sacred Heart won 3-1.