In another instance of apathy towards football and its players in India, the U-15 team of reigning I-League champions Aizawl FC was pictured sleeping on the floor of the train when they were returning from a tournament held in Goa.
In a widely shared Facebook post, the young footballers can be seen sleeping near the toilet and the door of the train on their journey from Kolkata to Guwahati on 8 February.
The 18-man U-15 team along with two members of the coaching staff were returning after losing in the semi-finals of the Nike Premier Cup to eventual winners Minerva Punjab FC. The team had reserved train tickets for the first leg of their return journey from Goa to Kolkata.
However, the team failed to get reserved tickets for the second leg of their journey from Kolkata to Guwahati forcing the youngsters to travel on the floor of the train.
According to Aizawl FC club president Robert Royte, the players had been promised to be flown down to Aizawl from Kolkata if they had won the tournament, which they didn't.
"The semi-final against Minerva ended in a draw and they lost in the tie-breaker. Because of that, they had to advance their travel. They were thinking they would be travelling by air from Kolkata to Aizawl," Royte told the Hindustan Times.
Royte also said that the pictures circulating on social media were taken at the start of the journey and that majority of the AC 3-tier tickets got confirmed later on with the help of the ticket checker.
Speaking to the Times of India, Jahar Das, head of Aizawl FC youth development said that the team managed to get 12 confirmed seats a couple of hours into the journey which was enough for 20 people to share.
On the team management's failure to get confirmed tickets, Das said, "It's not possible to book in advance since we can't predict how long the team will survive in the tournament. We could have gone after the group stages ended or even finished as champions."
The General Secretary of the All India Football Federation, Kushal Das said that it is the responsibility of clubs to ensure all travel arrangements are made for which the AIFF provides travel allowance.
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Updated Date: Feb 13, 2018 20:03:55 IST