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Not cool! MSSA U-10 footballers left high and dry due to water problems

Goan Sports Association which hosts under-10 MSSA football ties, can't provide clean loos and water as well

For a 122-year-old school sports institution one would expect the Mumbai School Sports Association (MSSA) to be near-perfect in the organisation of their pet event — inter-school football.

Kids participating in the ongoing MSSA inter-school U-10 football tournament, climb a broken stand at the Goan Sports Association Ground in Cross Maidan yesterday
Kids participating in the ongoing MSSA inter-school U-10 football tournament, climb a broken stand at the Goan Sports Association Ground in Cross Maidan yesterday. Pics/Suresh K Karkera

It's an event which attracts the participation of over 300 schools from across the city. However, the conditions at the Goan Sports Association (GSA) Ground at Cross Maidan, the venue for the U-10 MSSA football tournament, are pathetic.

The urinals at the Goan Sports Association Ground at Cross Maidan
The urinals at the Goan Sports Association Ground at Cross Maidan

Firstly, there is no provision of potable drinking water, forcing kids to carry their own stock of fluids to the venue.
Secondly, the tiny tots have to use stinking urinals behind the GSA office. Thirdly, there are only two toilets — one for only MSSA staff, match officials and women, and a second one which is locked and has a VIP board on it. Finally, one of the two stands at the venue is broken, forcing visiting parents and participants to squat on the ground.

MSSA generally conducts its football tournaments at its Azad Maidan premises, where there is provision for drinking water, showers, toilets and a canteen that offers snacks and cold drinks.

The only source of water at the GSA Ground
The only source of water at the GSA Ground

Unusual venue
However, the U-10 tournament this year has been shifted to the GSA Ground, as the Azad Maidan venue was being used for MSSA's handball tournament (January 5-9). The girl's U-12 football final was held there yesterday.

The conditions at GSA have left some of the participants' parents fuming. "Water is the basic requirement for any player before and after a match. Though we carry an extra bottle, sometimes, if the kids need more, we are forced to head outside the GSA premises to get it. The toilets here are disgusting and even stands are not maintained," said Sanjay Deshmukh, father of a St Xavier's (Fort) player.

Parents livid
Another parent, Manish Jain felt that since it's an U-10 tournament, MSSA should take extra effort to provide hygienic conditions to the little ones. "These boys are too young to be sent alone for matches, so we accompany them. But it's sad to see that MSSA does not even bother to have drinking water here.

There is no proper seating for us and one of the stands have collapsed." Another parent said, "Considering the GSA venue doesn't even have drinking water, it would be too far-fetched to expect a canteen that provides basic food and snacks for our kids. We have to go to the nearby khau-galli for food and that's not an hygienic option." MSSA general secretary Sebastian Fernandes said he would look into the matter. "We are only hiring the ground. We have informed school coaches to ensure kids get their own water, but other things are not in our hands.

"As for the broken stand, we cannot do much as it's GSA's lookout to get it repaired. I will ensure the kids get drinking water though," said Fernandes.

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