The Mumbai Schools Sports Association (MSSA) is all set to announce a five-a-side boys’ U-8 inter-school football tournament, in association with Mumbai City FC, to be played on artificial turf from December 1. The tournament is set to be played across two venues — Kamala Mills Compound, Lower Parel and Lions Club, Santacruz.
This is the first time that the 122-year-old school sports body will be conducting a five-a-side tourney in addition to the regular 11-a-side competition and initiative has been welcomed by coaches.
Don Bosco (Matunga) coach Leslie Machado said the five-a-side concept will make for an interesting introduction at the U-8 level. "MSSA have informed us about this tournament but details will be known only tomorrow at a coaches clinic at Azad Maidan. Since the tournament is in addition to the regular 11-a-side one, it’s good that kids will get to play more. Also, since it is a five-a-side event, the boys will be able to express themselves more freely," said Machado.
Campion (Cooperage) coach Wilfred Alva felt the shorter version will give kids better exposure to the game with more ball touches than the 11-a-side tourney. "In Europe five-a-side and seven-a-side tournaments with rolling substitutions are the norm for kids under-10. I’m glad MSSA is trying to do something similar for our kids too."
Jamnabai Narsee ICSE coach Jyoti Alva, however, felt that it’s unfair for the number of teams per school to be restricted to just two. "It is a positive step but I feel many kids will miss out since only two teams are permitted per school. In schools like Jamnabai and Don Bosco there are a lot of football-playing kids. They should allow at least four teams per school to participate. More the merrier," said Alva.