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Not quite having a ball

other Updated: Feb 16, 2010 01:33 IST
Anupma Tripathi
Anupma Tripathi
Hindustan Times
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Dirty linen, scarcity of water, paucity of space and stale food are what these footballers are worried about more than their matches. Here in Faridabad for the U-21 National Championships, the players are not even being provided the basic amenities of life.

Lodged in a hostel arranged by the Haryana Football Association, attending to the morning chores is an awful experience due to the acute shortage of water. “The first two days were pathetic. Drinking water wasn’t available. The bathrooms were dirty. It was all a big mess… there is only a slight improvement now,” said a coach accompanying a team.

Paucity of water has forced players to walk to a nearby sports complex for a wash every morning. “Everyday, there is a long queue outside the bathroom. I would rather walk than wait for my chance,” said a player from Uttarakhand.

Uttarakhand and Kerala have each been given a medium-sized room for their 20-member squads. Also, both teams share two lavatories and a single bathroom with a common access.

“Other states provide better amenities…20 players in a room makes it very uncomfortable,” said Sudip from Kerala. “Most of the space is taken up by footwear, kit and footballs. We cannot wash clothes because of shortage of water. Imagine 40 people using a single bathroom,” said another Kerala player.

Mohammad Jasim Khan, Jharkhand coach, even mulled shifting to a hotel. “Since we didn’t have a knowledge of hotels here, we dropped the idea.”

Vice-president of the Jharkhand Football Association, Rakesh Mehta, said the team was also served stale food. “It was only after we complained that the organisers served us fresh food. The cook had mixed leftover rice with chivda for breakfast. Some of the players took ill. This is not the way to organise a national championship.”

Sunil Bhardwaj, Haryana Football Association secretary, said, “If any team has a problem with the accommodation and arrangements, it can take its payment back and look for alternative accommodation.”

Five teams —Bengal, J&K, Gujarat, Chandigarh and Andhra Pradesh — are staying in hotels at their own cost.