Stephen Fernandez, a goalkeeper, now works in a provision store & Akash Jadhav (R) a football coach, drives a …Read More
Vadodara: While he dribbled the ball on the field five years ago, he concentrated hard on his passing accuracy — a skill that helped Akash Jadhav net the perfect goal. Today it helps the national footballer tackle even the most turbulent times while trying to dribble his life through the demanding lanes of existential crisis.
A qualified football coach who once played in Santosh Trophy, a national football tournament, today Yadav ekes a living as a taxi driver after Covid pulled the red card on him.
“I was working as a football coach in a school before the lockdown happened. After schools shut down, I lost my job and had to sit at home for some time. With lockdown in force, there was little I could do with my skill sets to earn money. I, therefore, picked up odd jobs, like distributing milk pouches, to make ends meet,” Akash told TOI.
But the measly earnings could hardly make ends meet for the 32-year-old. “When the lockdown eased, I began working as a driver, offering my services to anyone wanting to travel outside the city. But this too barely helps meet our monthly expenses. I am now looking for some regular job,” said Akash, who has two kids. There was sadness in his voice when he added, “Being a qualified coach and a national football player, I never thought I would have to take up such jobs for survival.”
But he isn’t the only national footballer struggling to survive.
Stephen Fernandez, a 26-year-old goalkeeper who has played in the prestigious Santosh Trophy, is now a provision store worker for the past few months. “With schools closed, sports coaches have become jobless. I was also asked to leave and our salaries too stopped. After spending some time at home, I decided to work in a provision store near my home,” Stephen said. “Having spent my life on the football field, working in a store is tough — but one has to earn to survive,” Stephen added.
Baroda District Football Association (BDFA), secretary, Sandip Desai, said, “In these troubled times, football coaches and players are facing a tough time as their expertise is not getting them gainful means. Hence the corporate sector or the government should come forward and support them by offering jobs in their area of interest.”