Pandemic forces football coaches to sell vegetables and kebabs

Written by Devendra Pandey
| Mumbai |

Published: July 15, 2020 11:50:23 pm


Coach Prasad Bhosale (in black t-shirt) is selling vegetables on Mumbai Suburban streets.

On any normal monsoon day, three Mumbai football coaches — Prasad Bhosale, Siddhesh Srivastav, and Samrat Rana — would have been plotting with kids how to win the next game at a school tournament. Instead, in the midst of the Covid-19 outbreak, Bhosale is selling vegetables, Srivastav is making kebabs at home, while Rana works as a delivery man for a restaurant. The pandemic means football academies don’t require their services at least until the situation normalises, and the three have been forced to fend for themselves in other ways.

“When I sold vegetables, I did feel awkward for the first few days. I am a Masters in Physical Education, a double graduate, and selling vegetables now. But when your stomach is empty and there are more hungry people at home, you stop thinking all that. I carry grain bags and vegetables on my shoulders, fill my cart, and sell on the streets,” Bhosale told The Totalsports.

He was told in March that his services won’t be required and later his school laid off the physical education (PE) teacher, dance teacher, and the music teacher. Bhosale resorted to selling vegetables in the Mumbai suburb of Kandivali.

Coach Siddhesh Srivastav is selling kababs these days.

Srivastav used to coach kids at two schools in the day and worked with a private football academy in the evening where he worked with more children. He was working with a Bangalore-based company which provides football coaches to schools. In June, he was told the company couldn’t afford to pay salaries.

“We were not paid for the last few months,” Srivastav said. “We wrote to the company a few times and they replied last month that they can’t pay us salaries and have terminated our contracts. My father is retired and I have to take care of my family, so we decided to sell kebabs.”

Many school coaches approached Mumbai School Sports Association (MSSA) to persuade schools not to lay off coaches, but it expressed helplessness. Lawrence Bing, a hockey secretary at MSSA, said he had received many calls from coaches across the city. “Till May, around 60-70 coaches were removed and by June the number rose to more than a hundred. As sports is completely shut and no outdoor sports looks possible in the coming months, coaches’ livelihoods are badly hit,” Bing said.

Rana was head of football academy CSPI, which had nine centres in Mumbai, and would also coach junior I-League teams. His younger brother was also a school football coach but both have been rendered jobless by the pandemic.

“Now I have become a delivery boy, I tried popular companies like Zomato and Swiggy but there was no vacancy. So, I became a delivery boy for a nearby restaurant. I had small savings and was forced to sell mother’s gold. My brother also lost his job. We had nine centres and I was the overall head. I have three brothers (one plays football) and they are all into sports. Now, we have to support our families through other means.”

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