In an era where the multi-million dollar Indian Super League promises to uplift the state of the beautiful game, here's an ugly story of apathy, and that too in an age group which is the stepping stone to the world of professional football.
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The victim: Ajay Jaiswal
Dnyanasadhana College (Thane) defender Ajay Jaiswal winces in pain after he breaks his shin during a Mumbai University inter-college football match at the RKT College Ground in Panvel yesterday
When 19-year-old Ajay Jaiswal of Thane's Dnyanasadhana College stepped onto the CKT College Ground in Panvel for a Mumbai University inter-collegiate football match against SK College, Nerul, little did he know that he'd leave the ground on a stretcher!
Shockingly, there was no stretcher initially to help the poor defender, who, 10 minutes into the game, broke his shin following a harsh tackle from an opposition forward.
Jaiswal's coach Taposh Ghosh, the former Air-India and Maharashtra midfielder, was appalled by what he saw next.
Solution 1: Ladder
In the absence of a stretcher, tournament organisers bring a ladder to place under Jaiswal to carry him out of the ground
"I was shocked when the organisers first brought a ladder on which they tried to place Ajay to take him out of the ground. When this failed, they brought in a school bench.
Finally, they got an autorickshaw onto the ground, but Ajay was simply immovable and wailing in pain all this while. For around 15 minutes, Ajay was crying. Seeing him I was reduced to tears too and so were couple of his teammates.
Solution 2: Bench
When the ladder idea fails, a bench is brought to carry Jaiswal off
Finally, after some frantic calls, an ambulance arrived a good 15-20 minutes later and took Ajay to the nearby Veer Hospital," Ghosh told mid-day yesterday.
The tournament is held under the aegis of the Mumbai University and is divided into four clusters depending on the area. The Panvel ground is hosting the fourth cluster that includes colleges from in and around Thane and Vashi.
Finally... in hospital
Jaiswal is finally admitted to the Veer Hospital in Panvel
CKT College's Physical Education (PE) director Vinod Naik, who is helping Mumbai University conduct this cluster of the tournament, said he did his best in the given situation. "We conduct the tournament the way the University asks us to.
We have a tie-up with a nearby hospital whereby whenever we rush in a patient, he is given priority, and that was also the case with Ajay today," Naik said. When questioned about the absence of a stretcher and an ambulance, Naik expressed helplessness.
Dnyanasadhana College (Thane) coach Taposh Ghosh
"Except Mumbai University, all universities in Maharashtra, have compelled colleges to have PE directors. Due to this, the grievances of Mumbai's players and coaches do not reach authorities.
The few PE directors, who attend the meeting with University officials at the start of the year, do not open their mouths fearing that their college authorities will pull them up for speaking against the University. It's a sad situation," said Naik.
University official sorry
Mumbai University's Director of Sports Dr Uttam Kendre said he was sorry to hear about the incident and will ensure such an episode will not recur. "The Thane-Vashi leg is the initial phase of the tournament and has been handed over to the CKT College authorities. As far as I know they have medical assistance at hand.
Mumbai University's Director of Sports Dr Uttam Kendre
I will speak to Vinod Naik and ensure such an incident is never repeated. Anyway, the next round of the tournament is at the University Pavilion in Marine Lines, which offers one of the best playing facilities to youngsters," said Kendre.
Meanwhile, the news from Veer Hospital in Panvel is that Jaiswal has suffered not one, but two fractures on his shin and will be out of action for over a month.
The young footballer's coach sounded sombre: "While Ajay will watch the second edition of the ISL (beginning on October 3) on TV from his bed, I won't be surprised if his dream of becoming a professional footballer comes to a premature end thanks to the Mumbai University's apathy," coach Ghosh signed off.