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A lot on Mumbaikar’s plate

D’Souza doubles up as tennis umpire and football player, reports Paresh Mokani.

sports Updated: Mar 18, 2008 22:57 IST
Paresh Mokani

DAVID D'SOUZA, the 21-year-old Woodhouse Gymkhana Chawl resident, harbours twin dreams. He is doing the chair umpire's job at the at the ongoing $10,000 ITF Futures tournament at the Maharashtra State Lawn Tennis Association and is scheduled to turn out for Premier India Football Association (PIFA) against Central Railways in the super division final league match of the Mahindra Mumbai Football League.

While on the one hand, he tries to remain focussed on the proceeding on the tennis court, on the other, he is eager to get back on the football ground. If his team, PIFA, wins Wednesday's match, it will get promoted to the MFL Elite Division.

After three matches, PIFA have seven points compared to Central Railway's nine. The left-winger played just one match but was instrumental in his team's success. The Bachelor of Commerce student from Elphinston College officiated in two matches on Monday, one of which featuring second seed Hyun-Woo Nam of Korea and Vivek Shokeen, took three hours and 19 minutes. People associated with tennis say he is just too good in the chair umpire's seat.

The next day, David was there dot at 7 a.m. training at the Karnataka Football ground. David says the physical and mental stress leave him completely drained. "Right now, I want to head home and have a decent sleep as tomorrow is a big day for me. I will do two matches in the morning session and then at 4.30 in the evening head to the football ground to fulfil my dream. It's a must-win situation for my team and I will go all out for attack," said David, who has also played for Maharashtra in an All-India football tournament at Madurai.

Life has not been easy for David. He has worked hard for what he is now. His first love was always football, but to earn some money to meet his expenses, he chose to work as ball boy at tennis tournaments.

But David was really sharp and observant. He learnt the rules and the art of lines fast. His next stop was lines umpire, while on the football field he honed his skills as a left-winger. This former Holy Name High School footballer also figured prominently in his school's title triumph over Don Bosco, Matunga in the Mumbai Schools Sports Association tournament in 2001.

Just an average student, he didn't meet with great success on the academic front. However, David didn't give up. He opted for distance studies and passed Secondary School Certificate. Then he headed to the junior college and also earned a place in the New India Assurance football team. He went on to play in the senior division.

His brother, Anton D'Souza, who is a white badge chair umpire, gave him lessons in chair umpiring. High on confidence, David took up chair umpiring as challenge.

So, how does he feel about the two jobs? "Tennis umpiring is a demanding job. But I keep my cool when things come to a boil. After all, I am a player too. But when I am on a football field, I respect the referee. All make mistake...they are not infallible."