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Aamdani Athani, Kharcha Ruppaiyya

Blogger Hormaz Fatakia talks to a football match referee in Mumbai and finds out what it is like to draw a salary of a mere 100rs.

Back in the olden days 100 rs was a princely sum. The ‘Sharma uncle’ drawing that kind of a salary was well-to-do. A family would spend a luxurious month within that salary.

But just that 100 rs. is equivalent to loose change today. One can’t afford to buy a kg of tomatoes with that money, let alone spending the entire month. Ever wondered what it is like to draw that kind of a meagre amount? And if you’re just laughing it off, wondering if that kind of a salary even exists, blogger Hormaz Fatakia, talks to a football match referee to prove otherwise.

Officials do not get the respect that they deserve, even though the game of football has a decent fan-following among the country’s youth. People may remember names of players, goal scorers and even managers and coaches. But no one has ever cared to remember the match official and his assistants.

During one such conversation with us, an official stated “When a team wins, it’s the player’s calibre, when a team loses; it’s the referee’s fault”

The job of being a match referee or an assistant referee is a thankless job. Yet again, the referees love the game too much to give up on it if they are not thanked for their services. Their training is that of high intensity and it is only after clearing the training tests that they are allowed to officiate these games. They run more during the 90 minutes of a match than the players themselves do. There are times when they have to officiate match after match, hour after hour, all of it at a stretch.

How does one then survive on a mere Rs. 100? Which is just why, the officials have to resort to side-businesses to make ends meet. While one works at the naval dockyard, another is a cop with the Maharashtra Police.  All of it, while they continue refereeing at matches out of pure selflessness.

The legendary Kadar Khan once quoted: “Aajkal har koi actor banna chahta hai. Ab har koi actor banega toh writer kaun banega? Director kaun banega? Well, football is no different. All those associated with the game, want to be players. And if all turn into players, who would officiate games then? But at appalling pay scales like these, there is no one to blame but the administration itself.

Football may not be a glorified sport in the country, especially at school level. But there’s only so much we can do when the life-line of the game is paid a measly sum of Rs. 100.

Just when we’ve delved deeper into the match referee’s life, we are witness to a school team celebrating their achievement on the field while the three officials walk off into the sunset like unsung heroes;with envelopes that may have contained Rs. 100 as a reward for their services.

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