MSSA plunges into darkness as boys forced to play in poor light at Azad Maidan
Hansraj Morarji Public and Ryan International players forced to play football in poor light at Azad Maidan
It was dark day, quite literally, in the Mumbai School Sports Association-conducted inter-school football tournament at Azad Maidan on Thursday.
MSSA football secretary Sebastian Fernandes shockingly approved a boys U-12 football match to commence at 6.35pm under poor light.
Hansraj Morarji Public School (Santacruz) and Ryan International School (Chembur) were seen kicking around in the dark with the full moon above.
What is even more baffling is that Fernandes was present at the venue but saw nothing wrong in making the young boys risk injury by playing a competitive football match so late in the evening.
The match was scheduled to kick off at 5pm, but got pushed further since a previous game was delayed. Hansraj Morarji were leading 3-0 at half-time when the Ryan International coaches protested the light and refused to continue with the match.
MSSA President, Fr Jude Rodrigues was livid when told of the incident. "How can you play football in bad light? Sebastian, our football secretary, should have cancelled it and recalled the teams to play the next day. I will speak to him and ensure we don't make children play in unsafe conditions," Rodrigues told mid-day over the phone.
The two coaches, Mahesh Darekar (Ryan International) and Kishore Rajguru (Hansraj Morarji), senior referee Andrew Pinto and MSSA groundsman Ravi Kahar, who is responsible for the day-to-day conduct of the football matches, all claimed that Fernandes wanted to "complete the match anyhow".
Fernandes however, denied this. "I did not tell the coaches to play the game. I told them that the referees would check and decide, but they insisted on playing since they had travelled all the way. Also, I told Pinto to go on the ground and check the conditions and then take a call," Fernandes said.
The referees have submitted a report on the reverse of the team line-up and left it to the MSSA committee to take a decision on the matter.
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