TFA coach Kausar Ahmed at his residence in Jamshedpur on Wednesday. Picture by Bhola Prasad
Breathe easy, Mr Bhalla, children playing soccer do need a breather.
It seems that former cricketer M.R. Bhalla and now the senior manager of Tata Football Academy (TFA), allegedly the brain behind weeding out 35 Under-10 boys out of a batch of 60, does not even want aspiring soccer players to take a break between practice.
Bhalla got all huffy with coach Kausar Ahmed, a former TFA cadet, who ordered a break for the Under-10 boys while they were training on Gopal Maidan, Bistupur, on Wednesday morning.
Stunned parents and children watched with amazement the argument between Bhalla and Ahmed, as the former raised objection to the break.
Argument and counter-argument went on for some time. Then, Ahmed left the ground, threatening to quit TFA.
“I no longer want to work with Bhalla. He has been targeting me for some time now. I feel suffocated working with him,” Ahmed, at his Dhatkidih home, said.
The former TFA cadet joined the cradle as a goal-keeping coach three years ago. “This morning, I ordered a break as trainees were tired and thirsty. Bhalla marched towards me and asked why I ordered the break. Tell me what wrong did I do? The weather is hot and humid. If I see that kids are tired, do I have to take Bhalla’s permission before ordering a break?” he asked, adding that the senior manager had also lost his temper at the sight of a press photographer clicking pictures.
When The Telegraph sought Bhalla’s version of the incident, he refused to comment on the matter. Interestingly, it was his idea to turn former cadets into coaches.
Ahmed, who is friendly with his wards, is an integral part of the TFA’s Under-10 training module.
After he left, confused trainees, who are not part of the Special 25, searched for him in vain. “Where has Sir gone? Is something wrong?” asked one.
A parent who witnessed the fracas backed the coach. “Bhalla should have shown mercy on children sweating it out in the heat. Such high-handedness of the TFA official is objectionable. It is the job of the coach to decide breaks,” the father said.
Insiders grumbled that Bhalla had “degraded” the TFA. “The cradle’s physical conditioner and warden were attached to cricket. The former was attached with a Chennai cricket academy while the warden is his friend here. Bhalla is not aware of soccer basics,” said sports lover Kallu Gaddi, who is associated with women’s soccer.