The Under-16 Ahmed Sailor Boys Hockey tournament has seen some shocking results as teams have lost with embarrassing margins. The main reason, coaches said, is that they have been fielding boys as young as 12-13 years and thus are being beaten hollow. However, Our Lady of Dolours, Marine Lines, have been an exception.
On Thursday, the team coached by legendary Merzban Patel, showed age is just a number by defeating St Anne’s (Malad) 1-0 to register their third win in as many matches and entered the semifinals with a game to spare.
“The rawness and inexperience amongst my boys is there for everyone to see, but we’ve taken this as a challenge. We are taking every match as it comes, playing every game like a final and the results have put us in the place we are today,” said Patel.
The majority of the team is made of players studying in 6th-9th standard and are not in their final year of school.
Patel has put his faith in the younger lot and they have not disappointed him.
“They’ve performed well above my expectations. What we have achieved this season was actually my goal for the next season. The boys have made my work much simpler,” Patel said.
“The only thing I can hope from such displays is to see more and more parents sending their kids”
Batala Bhimbahadur, the lone scorer on Thursday, was all smiles. However, the lad from Marine Lines said that there’s still a lot to be done.
“Though I scored the winner, let’s not take anything away from our goalkeeper Vijay More, who made two fine saves to keep us in the game. Nobody talks about the ‘keeper when a side wins by one goal.”
Should Dolour’s reach the finals, to be played on Sunday, they’d have played gruelling six matches in as many days.
“We can’t help it as the schedule’s made months in advance. However, instead of complaining, I consider it a good thing as it helps carry the momentum into the next game,” said Patel whose players will give their school examinations on Monday.