MSSA lands knockout punch on school teams

Updated: 28 February, 2020 07:52 IST | Gordon D'costa | Mumbai

In January, Vibgyor High (Malad) also encountered a similar situation in the boys U-14 Div-IV knockouts; the school claiming they were not informed of their fixture and a walkover awarded to their opponent.

Udayachal's Shreya Phadale, Sakshi Repe & Janvi Nikam pose with the U-14 Div II trophy at Cross Maidan on Wednesday. Pic/Suresh Karkera
Udayachal's Shreya Phadale, Sakshi Repe & Janvi Nikam pose with the U-14 Div II trophy at Cross Maidan on Wednesday. Pic/Suresh Karkera

With over a hundred schools participating in the Mumbai Schools Sports Association's inter-school football tournament, a few walkovers are not rare. However, when there are allegations that the walkovers have occurred due to the fault of the organisers (MSSA), it points to serious administrative lapses.

Udayachal School (Vikhroli), who won the girls U-14 Division-II crown on Wednesday, claim that they were robbed of a chance to compete for the same title last year as they were not informed that the knockout rounds had commenced and learnt about it only after the final.

"After we qualified for the knockouts last year, I was in constant touch with MSSA football secretary Sebastian Fernandes and was assured that I would be intimated about our next round. I got no intimation and later I learnt that the tournament was over," Udayachal's coach Shashi Singh told mid-day.

Singh said he took up the issue with MSSA but nothing came of it and his girls lost the chance to emerge champions and earn a promotion to Division-I.

Shashi said that Fernandes then tried to compensate the team. "Fernandes offered to promote our team to Division-I but I refused and insisted that we continue in Division-II and now by winning this title, we have proved our point," said Singh.

In January, Vibgyor High (Malad) also encountered a similar situation in the boys U-14 Div-IV knockouts; the school claiming they were not informed of their fixture and a walkover awarded to their opponent.

Vibgyor submitted a letter to MSSA, seeking a clarification but the organisers blamed the school coaches instead. Again, as compensation, MSSA has decided to promote Vibgyor to Div-III next season despite the team not playing the knockout rounds.

Earlier this month, Dr Antonio DaSilva High School (Dadar) also received a similar shock. They qualified for the boys' U-10 Division-II knockouts but were not informed of their fixtures.

Coach Pervez Shaikh said that Fernandes assured him that he would be informed about the fixtures, but that didn't happen. "Suddenly, on the day of our match, our school's sports master gets a call to come for the game," said Pervez.

Hockey Olympian Joaquim Carvalho, Technical Director of the Dadar school, approached Fernandes to reschedule the match but received a negative response. "It's a shame. All the hard work of the boys and coaches has gone down the drain. This shows the inefficiency and unprofessional attitude of this MSSA football official. It's high time a competent person is given charge of MSSA football else children will continue to suffer," said Carvalho yesterday.

Fernandes however, maintained that there was no lapse on his or MSSA's part. "The coaches have not seen their messages. The fixtures were put in the MSSA football's WhatsApp group, which comprises 245 schools. We [MSSA] don't send individual messages," said Fernandes.

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First Published: 28 February, 2020 07:38 IST

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