With Metro work set to eat into half of their football field, schools sports body unsure of venue for next season's inter-school matches; seek MDFA's help
Mumbai Metro barricades form the backdrop of this MSSA girls match at Azad Maidan. Pic/Suresh Karkera
The Mumbai Schools Sports Association (MSSA) is faced with a challenge in conducting their inter-schools football tournaments next season. The MMRDA, which has already barricaded around a quarter of the football field (south end) at the Schools Sports Centre, Azad Maidan, for the Mumbai Metro project, may be looking to take about half the ground in future, as work progresses.
Due to this, the MSSA's main concern next year is the football matches for the U-16 and U-14 boys and girls categories that require a full field unlike the U-12, U-10 or U-8 age groups, which can be accommodated on a much smaller ground.
"Earlier this month, the MMRDA started work towards the south end of the ground to complete the Mumbai Metro project. MMRDA officials have informed us that the work is expected to be completed in about a year's time and have also assured us that after completion of the work, they will ensure that the football field is restored to playing condition," MSSA, Hon. Gen. Secretary, Esmero Figueiredo told mid-day yesterday.
Most of the U-16 matches were somehow accommodated this season, but that won't be possible next year, said Figueiredo. "We will be looking for alternative grounds, but that's going to be a Herculean task as football grounds in Mumbai are scarce and not easily available," added the concerned official.
"The MSSA will appeal to MDFA [Mumbai District Football Association] for help. We [MSSA and MDFA] have a good understanding. They have always allowed us to utilise the St Xavier's ground at Parel and recently, even permitted us to hold some of our matches on their new Neville D'Souza ground at Bandra. We also have allowed MDFA to conduct some of their league matches at the Schools Sports Centre on Sundays.
I am confident that they will come to our rescue," explained Figueiredo. MDFA, Hon. Gen. Secretary, Udyan Banerjee said that the governing body for football in the city will definitely support MSSA.
MDFA to the rescue
"MDFA has maintained cordial relations with MSSA. We have a reciprocal understanding on sharing our venues. So there is absolutely no doubt about MDFA helping MSSA," Banerjee quipped.