The players in front of JSEB’s Ranchi office on Sunday. Picture by Hardeep Singh
Ranchi, Nov. 26: Heroes on field, zeroes off it.
They dribble, strike and volley on the field to win goals and laurels for Jharkhand State Electricity Board (JSEB). Lauded in public, footballers who don the JSEB jersey on field are told to take a hike every time they ask for a regular job.
The trophies they win, including the Ranchi district senior division football (2011) runner-up, are proudly displayed at the JSEB headquarters in Ranchi. But otherwise, the players are at best irregular daily wagers, summoned and sacked at will.
The spotlight is back on them as they prepare for the 2012 senior division super league football tournament. The opening match on November 27 is at Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, Dhurwa, in Ranchi.
The JSEB football team is riding on captain Md Juber’s shoulders. But the helmsman is a “sometime daily wager” with the power utility since 2001 who undertakes transmission line repair jobs.
“In 2004 and 2005, I was deployed for 89 days per year and then put to rest. In 2008, I was given work for 180 days and sacked. Over the past four years, I have not been employed at all. On February 23, 2012, the JSEB issued a letter to the Ranchi division general manager asking him to put 18 sportsmen on daily wage under the sports quota. That hasn’t helped me so far,” Juber said.
Call it pig-headed optimism or just waste of time, but he and his other daily wage colleagues continue to play for JSEB.
“From 2004, we won at least 16 trophies in championships organised across the state. The irony is if we approach the JSEB for a regular job, even on daily wages, we are shooed away,” Juber lamented.
Md Akhtar Hussein, who plays for JSEB in Ranchi district league matches, had even represented Jharkhand in the prestigious senior Santosh trophy football championships in 2005. He got work on daily wage basis in 2004, 2005 and 2008 for short periods ranging from 89 days to 180 days.
JSEB midfield defender Santosh Oraon was given work for six days under Tupudana substation last month. He alleged that JSEB hadn’t paid him.
Md Sami Alam is luckier. Adjudged best goalkeeper at the all India football championship held in Buxar earlier this year, he has been employed by JSEB on daily wages. It is another matter that he would be told off once he completes 89 days.
JSEB right wing defender Kunwar Karmali is at his wit’s end. “I am the sole bread earner for my family but yet to find work this year. I feel like giving up playing altogether,” he rued.
“There are 18 players of repute who are in the JSEB football team. All are daily wagers. They win trophies and medals for JSEB each year, but they don’t even get regular daily wage jobs. Only the dream of landing a regular job keeps these half-starved players going,” Jharkhand Vidyut Supply Takniki Shramik Sangh president Ajay Rai told The Telegraph.
“We plan to meet JSEB chairman tomorrow. Like all past JSEB chiefs, the present chairman is also aware of how much these hapless footballers have contributed in the past decade. When we meet him, we will carry all relevant press clippings and show him the trophies these players have won and which are on display at JSEB headquarters,” Rai stressed.
JSEB chairman S.N. Verma is expected to be back from the US tonight.