When St Xavier’s (Bhandup) took the field in their U-14 second division MSSA clash against St Mary’s SSC (Mazgaon) at the Azad Maidan, Churchgate on Tuesday, spectators were in for a surprise. Instead of the regulation 11, they had only nine players.
The reason: Xavier’s had their annual picnic (to Panvel) on Tuesday. With nine players turning up, there was no question of getting someone on from the substitute’s bench. However, St Xavier’s fought all adversities to draw 0-0.
For Arpit Majalikar, captain of the Xavier’s, making a choice between the match and the picninc was easy. “I didn’t have to think even for a minute. We can go on a picnic again in the future but with the team fighting a relegation battle, the choice was simple.
Be it with 11 or nine, once the boys step out on the pitch, we see to it that the ball is fought for every single minute.”
Going by his side’s spirited display, coach Aakash Sharma said the draw was no less than a win. “We’ve faced worse conditions than this as we don’t have a ground for practice. The pitch where we play four days a week has no goal posts, what we do have is the determination and commitment to go out there and win. The score may be 0-0, but my boys are winners after today’s performance.”
Arpit and the other eight need not worry about missing their school picnic because Sharma has promised them a team picnic after the tournament.