MSSA unable to commence football tournaments as ground remains occupied with Metro work; sports body urges authorities, schools to provide venues
The Metro construction work in progress at the MSSA ground in Azad Maidan yesterday. Pic/Ashish Raje
The start of the Mumbai Schools’ Sports Association (MSSA) inter-school football competitions that could not be held for the last two years due to the Covid-19 pandemic, has been delayed this year due to the non-availability of the ground at Azad Maidan. MSSA last organised their tournaments in the 2019-20 season. “At the moment, we [MSSA] do not have a ground for the children to play on,” MSSA football secretary Sebastian Fernandes told mid-day on Sunday.
‘MMRC boss positive’
The MSSA ground was taken over by the Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation (MMRC) in 2019 for construction of the metro. “We met MMRC Executive Director [Planning & Land Acquisition] R Ramanan and requested him to provide us an alternate ground since they have occupied our ground. He [Ramanan] was positive and agreed to help us,” said Fernandes.
Also Read: Man Utd star Cristiano Ronaldo drops biggest hint of return to action yet
“Meanwhile, MSSA President Fr Jude [Rodrigues] and myself have been trying to get other grounds. We’ve approached officials of Naigaon Police Ground [Dadar], Veterinary College [Parel], Kamgar Stadium [Parel], St Francis D’Assisi High School [Borivli], Poinsur Gymkhana [Kandivli] and Wings Sports Centre [Bandra] to lend us their ground and are awaiting response. Former RCF cricketer and ex-MDFA president Austin Coutinho is helping us get the Swami Vivekanand College ground in Chembur. We have also appealed to some of our member schools, who have football facilities, to lend us their grounds for which MSSA is prepared to pay a nominal hiring fee.
Semis, final at Cooperage
“We approached WIFA [Western India Football Association] and MFA [Mumbai Football Association] too, but they have their own football activities going on. However, WIFA Hon Gen Secretary, Souter Vaz has confirmed that we can use the Cooperage ground for our semi-finals and finals.
I am hopeful that we will succeed in getting a couple of grounds and start our tournaments soon,” added Fernandes. Meanwhile, only six of the 16 teams in the girls’ U-16 Div-I competition, have completed their registration.
“The remaining 10 teams are yet to finalise their participation. Since all football activities were shut in most of these schools, they are finding it difficult to get players. Let’s hope this delay can help these schools finalise their players and participate,” concluded Fernandes.