The mess that is Pune District Football Association
There have always been shortcomings. It is not an easy task. For some players, when things don’t go their way, they get disgruntled. You will have people who are not happy whenever their players are not selected. I definitely think that Pune football does not need an overhaul. Since 2006 we have seen a lot of football. If it is talking about the recent decision of team promotion, then in that case it should not have been taken. It is a one-off small thing. People should just relax and enjoy the sport and not get into administrative stuff.— MANDAR TAMHANE
Pune: Every passing day more skeletons are tumbling out from the closet and troubles for Pune District Football Association (PDFA) are surely and steadily increasing as more and more clubs are coming forward with stories of the wrongdoings of PDFA.
After the news of the promotion scandal broke out—Sakal Times was first to publish it—around 25 players from various clubs visited Sakal Times office and shared their plight and issues, the clubs have been facing all these years because of the high-handedness of PDFA bosses.
Suraj Bhaleghare, a player from a Pune based football club says “Now that the things are out and in notice of all, it is a humble request to authorities to at least now take strict and corrective actions about the wrongdoings that have been going for a long time. We have a pool of good players in Pune but due to the current people involved in the association, players have been wasted.”
Adding further Bhaleghare says “There is no punctuality. Referees are not interested, match timings are changed based on the favourites. Decisions are biased and there are a lot of other issues. The PDFA Secretary, Pradeep Pardeshi, himself is an arrogant person leading to all the wrongs. In short, the league is in to the wrong hands. We definitely need to bring this under proper guidance now to improve the condition of Pune football.”
Rojer Richard from Jolly Rangehills FC feels that people in the PDFA committee are functioning only for their personal needs.
“There have been a number of instances that has raged not only individual players but the entire team as well. When Jolly Rangehills FC were in the First Division in the year 2013, it was during a crucial decider against Poona Social that decisions were being given against us throughout the game. Our captain challenged the decision of the referee on one occasion so the referee gave him a yellow card. When asked for an explanation about the yellow card, the referee did not give any reply which led to an altercation leading to a red card . We lost an important game. We still had to play one game in order to complete our quota of league matches.
“However, Jolly Rangehills FC was relegated from First Division on the grounds as a punishment to an individual player and the team. We were not allowed to play the last match. I had given a letter requesting pardon on my players’ conduct, however, the PDFA did not consider my request and we were asked to play Second Division straight off.
“I had even suggested we will rest the concerned player for one entire season but we were never heard. I personally feel, this quality of playing deaf ear comes in PDFA due to the lack of immature people in the committee, who are functioning only for their personal needs,” Roger complained.
Even the referees were not behind as a set of referees contacted Sakal Times to put their side of the story and the problems they have been facing.
Referees, who did not wish to be named due to fear of backlash from the association said “There have been a lot issues going on. Exposing the wrongdoings going on in the PDFA was very necessary. Right from our safety to our payments (which are always late and we have to run behind them), there have been issues with many aspects.”
A senior referee added “In other districts where football is played, there are referee associations. Here the PDFA has pressurised us so much that we are unable to form our association. Now all the clubs and players are coming out and are getting united. This is a good sign.”
Another referee was quick to say that “There is no security for any referee on the ground. If any player/team comes and hits the referee, there is nothing the referee can do as he is alone. Also rules don’t apply to teams of committee members. They have the right to abuse and do what they want with the referee.”
Adding further, the referee said “In all other districts in Maharashtra, even the lowest division match remuneration is more than that of our Super Division. There are many referees who have left this profession because of financial instability. In any game the referee plays a huge role so he needs to be paid well and unless this happens there won’t be growth in football in Pune.”
Sakal Times tried to reach out to PDFA President Vishwajeet Kadam but he did not respond to text messages.
Common complaints by clubs
- Teams pay a lot of money as entry fee for leagues, still PDFA asks teams to get footballs. There are no ball boys at the ground.
- No chairs to sit in the dugout.
- No proper time management. The PDFA gives a particular time duration for league matches but never sticks to it.
- Rules are different for different teams. ID cards are compulsory but for other few teams, which are close to people in the body, the rules are flexible.
- Most of the times the Match Commissioner himself is absent.
- If a team of a committee person is playing, then mostly the referees favour them and try to give all decisions in their favour and make them win the match.
- The secretary of any association needs to know the rules but here he (Pradeep Pardeshi) invents his own rule. He talks in a very bad manner. If his team is playing he himself abuses the referee if any foul is given against his team. He himself breaks all the rules.
Dobarwadi ground not safe to play
- A visit by Sakal Times to the Dobarwadi ground in Ghorpadi revealed the dismal state which it is in. There were liquor bottles and thrash lying everywhere to locals just crossing the ground when a Zilla Parishad match was going on. Even the basic facilities have been missing.
- According to players there are goons from the nearby slums who are always present during the club matches and many fights have taken place till date.
- Sharing one such incident Rojer Richard from Jolly Rangehills FC said “During a Second Division game against Diego FC at the Dobarwadi ground, there was a verbal spat between the players of both the teams. When the match ended, the player from Diego FC continued the fight and called his friends, who stay in the vicinity.
- There were around 50 people who came carrying hunters (used to train horses) and started beating the players whoever were pointed out by the Diego FC player.
- Secretary Pradeep Pardeshi, who was on the ground at that time showed no interest in stopping the ruckus. Two of our players were seriously injured, one with a broken nose and the other with severe head injuries. When I confronted Pardeshi, he requested me to not take the case to the cops as it would spoil the name of PDFA.
- An assurance of strict action against the concerned team was given by Pardeshi. To my surprise this player was made to sit just for a single game. No action was taken against the team as well. The same player played the final match that qualified the team for the next division. The father of this player was the chief guest for the prize distribution.
- They happen to be the locals in the surrounding of the Dobarwadi ground. This is the way PDFA has been supportive and benefiting their own motives for personal needs since years.
- “They feel they are not answerable to anything or anyone. If at all any team has asked questions the best solution the PDFA has ever had is suspend the individual or relegate the club.”