It was mid-afternoon on Children’s Day - November 14 - this year. A message on a Whatsapp group for Bengaluru FC - comprising several sports reporters - shifted the focus from celebrating the innocence of children to the real possibility of an untimely death.
“A serious-looking injury in the local division game,” said the message. With it a photo of an ambulance parked square on the pitch of the Bangalore Football Stadium.
Minutes after the message, reporters scrambled out of their desks, offices and homes, rushing to the stadium.
“Yenu sir? Yellarannu stadium ge baro-thara maadu bittri (What sir? You have made everyone come to the stadium),” the reporter for a daily jibed at Chikka Chennaiah - media coordinator of the Karnataka State Football Association (KSFA). Chennaiah was on a call, explaining to another reporter what had just transpired at the Bangalore District Football Association’s (BDFA) A-Division - Bengaluru’s second division football league - match on that fateful day.
Ayush Panchamiya - a winger and striker for the Young Challengers FC - was knocked unconscious following an on-field collision with an opponent player.
Panchamiya immediately began having fits. From the looks of everyone’s faces, it was clear - Panchamiya’s reaction to the collision did not look good. The physiotherapist present suggested he be rushed to a hospital as soon as possible.
Panchamiya survived - timely intervention and quick decisions saved the boy’s life. He was eventually was released from the hospital two hours later. That, however, did not satiate reporters and journalists covering the story. Given the BDFA’s shoddy track record of providing on-field medical assistance, they smelled blood and continued to flock to the stadium, hoping to badger the Association into a corner about how a young boy nearly died on their [BDFA] watch.
Panchamiya was fortunate to have survived that day. However, not everyone in Indian football is that lucky.