We have all watched live sport and often missed who got the final touch when a goal was scored. Usually when that happens someone close by is there to assist in identifying the scorer. Not so a week or so ago at a game of hockey.
St Stanislaus school was playing against Our Lady of Dolours in the under 16 boys final of the Mumbai School Sports Association (MSSA) competition.
Omar Narvekar was credited as being the hero for St Stanislaus scoring the winner, but it was in fact Raaquib Merchant. The reason for the confusion being that both players were wearing the same shirt number, the number two. Ricjie Benaud would have loved that, two number twos. In fact they were not the only ones with several players sharing the same number, there were according to reports two number tens, two number ones and two number fours, although only one on the official team sheet.
One set of numbers on the team sheet though were in black, while the others were written in yellow.
With hockey being a sport so dear to Indian hearts this issue received a great deal of coverage and the newspapers contacted the MSSA to ask for an official statement. They wanted to know how this could be allowed when the rules clearly state that each player must have an individual number, and the fact that the MSSA had representatives at the game.
The response came back that it is ultimately the responsibility of each school to provide the proper jersey to each of its players.
Did the referee do the right thing letting the game go ahead in spite of the numbers? Many would say that he did sit would have been harsh to rob these young boys of the chance to play in a final, as some may never get the chance again.
The only problem is it then becomes hard to recognise the players. With hockey in India giving some young players the chance to live a better life wearing the same shirt number and having a goal credited to the ‘other number ten’ could be a costly mistake.