Mumbai schools' sporty souls gear up for MSSA football tourney
for sporty kids, it's football time! From today, the Azad maidan will be brimming with excitement as kids of different age groups from 125 schools will kick ball over the next six months as a brand new season of Mumbai School Sports Association (MSSA) football league gets underway.
Defending champions Don Bosco, Matunga practice at their school ground
on Saturday prior to the Mumbai School Sports Association (MSSA) inter-school
tournament kick-off. PIC/ SURESH KK
The under-16 Elite Division I is the first tournament, where some of the top schools teams of the city will showcase their prowess. Champions Don Bosco, Matunga won the title last year and are in for a hat-trick this season. However, Bombay Scottish (Mahim), St Stanislaus (Bandra) and St Francis D'Assisi (Borivali) are more than up for the challenge.
Don Bosco coach Leslie Machado is well aware that it won't be a cakewalk this year and is already spending extra time preparing his boys to defend their crown.
"We started our practice immediately after school re-opened. And once the team was selected, we also played some practice matches with some club teams to help the boys get into the competitive mood," Machado told
MiD DAY at the school's ground on Saturday.
Machado admitted his team is not as good as last year. "We have lost some of our key players as they have passed out of school. There are only three players that were part of last year's winning team while the rest have graduated from the under-14 team," said Machado, who has been associated with the school team for more than two decades.
Meanwhile, last year's runners up St Francis D'Assisi are sharpening their swords too. Coach Thomas Barreto said: "We have a completely new team apart from three guys Alton Codrus, Bhushan Kanchan and Sonu Gupta who featured last year. I'm keeping my fingers crossed as far as our chances are concerned as this team is not as good as last year. But that holds true for every other school too. "We are looking forward to continuing our rivalry with Don Bosco. I think, we haven't beaten them in over a decade. We play them on July 15." Meanwhile, St Stanislaus (Bandra) coach Roy Fernandes is confident that his team can repeat their 2008 triumph.
"We have done well at MSSA but last year was not that good as we finished fourth. But this year we are confident of winning the title," said Roy. Bombay Scottish coach Adip Kenkre can't wait for one of his star players Aurochit Patnaik to take to the field. "My boys are prepared and I have high hopes from our captain Aurochit. We have got quite a good blend of players this year," he said.
Meanwhile, Aurochit has a personal agenda. "Since I'm in Class X, this is the last time I will be playing for the school. We want victory at all costs," he said.