Ravindran's death highlights the plight of State footballers

Ravindran's death highlights the plight of State footballers

Lack of employment drives CIL guest player to take extreme step

Ravindran's death highlights the plight of State footballers

After serving his team Controllerate of Inspection Electronics (CIL) as a guest player for 12 years, Ravindran, known affectionately as Velu, was unable to achieve his dream of becoming a permanent employee. Ravindran reportedly consumed poison, killing not just himself but his dreams as well.

“He was one of the robust players I have ever played with,” said Karnataka captain Xavier Vijaykumar. “One could play him in midfield and use him as a striker too. He always believed he could get employed at CIL. Many from poor background who start playing football dream of getting a public-sector job, but unfortunately it did not work out for him,” said a shocked Xavier.

Public-sector companies and defence establishments have been the major backers of football in the State. But in recent years, several factors have led to a drop in recruitment, with teams relying on guest players to achieve their goals.

The issue came to the fore again during this year’s Bangalore District Football Association’s Super Division League. Moments before their third match against Bharath Earth Movers Limited, navratna company Bharath Heavy Electricals Limited decided to hand a walkover after many of their guest players failed to turn up. A few players alleged they were paid a meagre Rs 50 per match. BHEL withdrew from the league and were automatically relegated to ‘A’ division.

Xavier, who also captains Super Division champions Hindustan Aeronautics Sports Club, felt the lack of competitive football played a big part and blaming the teams alone is not correct. “Firstly, how many competitions are held in Bangalore that involves the big teams? Gone are the days when huge number of fans flocked to the stadium to watch us play. But today, only teams like HASC, BEML or KSP attract good numbers. Also, the teams make very little profit from State league compared to the I-League.”

“In football, one can play at the top level until the age of 38. If the player is permanently contracted, then the company has to dish out salaries until he turn 60. So the teams feel it is better to employ on a temporary basis rather than fork out money for the non-playing years,” he pointed. That becomes even more of an issue when a player is not well-educated and can’t aspire for a higher post.

Just like many footballers, Ravindran too hails from a poor background. The youngest of ten children — he has six sisters and three brothers — Ravindran’s early promise saw him earn a place in the State under-19 and then in the under-21 squad. Captaining CIL in the Super Division this season, he scored six goals including a hat-trick against Southern Blues, steering his side to a seventh-place finish.

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