MSSA makes kids pay Rs 3,000 each to figure in hockey Nationals

While the Indian men’s hockey team’s bronze medal at the Tokyo Olympics is the perfect incentive for more kids to take up the sport, a recent move by the Mumbai Schools Sports Association (MSSA), a body for the promotion of school sports, could serve as a deterrent. 

The MSSA Academy, which has registered two teams for the Hockey India Men’s Sub-Junior and Junior Academy National Championships to be played in Bhopal from October 4 (the sub-junior event starts on Monday, while the Junior Nationals commences from October 18), has decided to charge players selected for both teams Rs 3,000 each.

Hockey Secretary unaware

MSSA’s Hockey Secretary Lawrence Bing said he had no knowledge of the development until recently. “The MSSA President [Fr Jude Rodrigues] has taken this decision and I don’t want to interfere or question him,” Bing told mid-day on Friday.

Fr Rodrigues put the responsibility on MSSA’s Executive Committee. “This is like a contribution from the players. There is no hard and fast rule. If a player can’t pay, they can approach us and we will make a concession or waive it off. Earlier, whenever MSSA participated in the Nationals, we were provided with concessional rail fare, accommodation, meals and local transportation. But now due to COVID-19, the railway concession has stopped. Hockey India have also made a new policy that every participating team must take care of their own boarding and lodging. So it’s quite a burden,” said Fr Rodrigues, who will be travelling as manager of the sub-junior team.

No sponsors

MSSA Joint Secretary, Joe Monteiro, who will be accompanying the junior team as manager, said they do not have a sponsor. “The expenses for the girls’ teams that participated in the Sub-Junior and Junior Nationals in Bhubaneswar last March, was Rs 3.5 lakh. We wouldn’t have charged the players if we had a sponsor. We are still trying to find one,” said Monteiro.

A young player, who was with the girls team in Bhubaneswar, told mid-day that despite paying Rs 2,000 per head, as many as four players shared one room. 

“But when MHAL was in-charge, not only were all our expenses taken care of, each player also received a travelling allowance of Rs 250 per day,” said the 

A former Mumbai hockey player called MSSA’s decision appalling. “School children should not be charged to play the Nationals. If the association does not have funds, they shouldn’t participate. I have represented Mumbai in the Senior Nationals and MHAL [Mumbai Hockey Association Ltd] has always borne all our expenses,” said the ex-player. Churchgate-based MHAL used to select Mumbai teams for National tournaments before the responsibility was passed to Hockey Maharashtra last year under Hockey India’s one-state-one-association policy.

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