Jharkhand is one of few states that is almost synonymous with football in India. Home to the magnificent Tata Football Academy that has produced hundreds of players over the years who have gone on to represent India, the state has always had a huge talent pool when it comes to the beautiful game. Even last year, as many as 12 young girls from the state got called up to the squad for the U17 Women’s World Cup which has since been cancelled due to the Covid pandemic. However, in its capital city of Ranchi, no competitive leagues have taken place in the past two years, adding to the frustration and disappointment of local clubs and players.
A total of 128 teams in Ranchi are affiliated to the Chhotanagpur Athletics Association (CAA) which is tasked with organising the ‘A’, ‘B’ and Super Division leagues in the district. But with the association seemingly on an unofficial ‘break’ since the past two years, none of the leagues have taken place except in 2019 when only the ‘B’ Division league was last held.
To make matters worse, it has also emerged that the CAA itself isn’t a permanent entity. In 2012, an ad hoc committee of members had been formed for a duration of six months which till date presides over proceedings in the area and calls all the shots, even eight years later. Meanwhile, the Jharkhand Football Association (JFA) has taken note of the situation and promised to restart football in Ranchi this year. However, according to a senior official at JFA, replacing the ad hoc committee with a new one will have to be put on hold for the time being because there is an ongoing court case regarding the issue.
Reports also suggest that the CAA officials have been dilly-dallying over the restarting of leagues citing issues related to availability of venues as well as the registration of players in the Central Registration System (CRS), the one-stop player registration portal used by the All India Football Federation (AIFF). But with over two years without competitive football in the district, one doubts whether excuses such as these would be enough for the youngsters in the area who are yearning to take the field once again.