A women’s football league is going on but there are no ambulances, doctors or proper dressing rooms for the footballers and officials. This happens to be the situation in the ongoing MFDA Women’s League that is taking place in Mumbai.
Basic amenities like a doctor on the sidelines and an ambulance to rush the footballer to a hospital, should something go wrong, are missing from the football league’s infrastructure that is taking place at the Bombay Gymkhana Ground.
The footballers are mostly young women in their late teens and early twenties, most of them college students who, let alone an ambulance, do not even have the provision of a stretcher to help them off the field if they get injured.
But it seems like not having medical facilities is only one big part of a series of problems. It seems like what these girls have in place of a dressing room is only a makeshift bamboo structure, surrounded by a black cloth.
According to Bloecher Mendes, a coaching staff member of Bodyline Sports Club, this was calling for trouble. He said to the TOI, “The changing room is just satisfactory. But as this is considered part of an open space, there are chances of some indecent situations to occur. If I’m not wrong, Fifa rules state that an ambulance needs to be present before the start of a game.”
Apart from the concerns regarding the dressing room, Mendes continued to elaborate on the several other shortcomings that plagued the players and the staff members.
‘Apart from that, there are no proper seats for the coaches or the substitute members of the playing teams. About medical facilities, whenever a player is injured, it’s the coach who has to ensure that the player gets the necessary treatment,” he added.
Apparently, this is far from the first time that a football league has been organised in such a dismal manner. A former footballer and now coach, said that concerns regarding the disorganisation had been raised earlier. But there were not enough people to take it ahead and were happy to just have a league that they could play in.
She said, “In 2016, we raised concerns about not having an ambulance at the venue, but other teams didn’t back us. They were content with just having a league to play. That’s the case now too.
She continued to explain the other concerns that the MFDA had turned a blind eye to. For instance, the girls did not get enough time to recover from fatigue between two matches. They also had to face the sweltering heat and play in the afternoon.
“The organizers (MDFA) have no consideration regarding match timings. They conduct games in blistering afternoon heat. It seems as though they want to conduct the tournament just for the sake of conducting it,” she said.
A senior referee also said that with the way things are being handled by the MFDA, they could end up in trouble, should the players choose to make a formal complaint.
He said, “If the players write a letter to the All India Football Federation, the league organizers will be in trouble. For the national leagues, there are at least two ambulances present at the ground. These are basic facilities.”