KOCHI: When the Gokulam Kerala FC camp huddled together to discuss the league’s decision to postpone the 2021-22 season by at least six weeks, and how it was going to affect their title defence, the overwhelming sentiment was that of helplessness.
As for the players who stayed in the bubble for months, it was a case of trying to curb their disappointment and doing everything they could so that it resumes soon.
On Monday, in the light of a fresh outbreak inside the league’s bio-bubble in Kolkata, an official meeting was conducted with representatives from all teams participating in the current I-League campaign, where it was ‘unanimously’ decided to postpone the competition.
“The whole talk within the club revolved around how we just have to accept the situation. Even though none of our players or staff were affected, we understand it was too big a risk to go ahead with the league. It would take weeks for players to recover and then resume training so we have to be patient. Our team will return and wait for instructions from the AIFF on the next course of action. Same goes with all teams even though there is a lot of disappointment,” said a Gokulam club official.
The league was initially postponed after five players and three officials from various clubs had tested positive last week.
A fresh round of tests were conducted recently which reported more positive cases and forced the federation to call an emergency meeting chaired by AIFF vice-president Subrata Dutta, where the suggestions of AIFF Sports Medical Committee Dr. Harsh Mahajan were discussed.
“Dr. Mahajan informed the clubs that with the number of positive cases rising all over the country exponentially, the new covid norms and restrictions being implemented by the Government of West Bengal, and with the philosophy of AIFF not allowing any compromise with the health and safety of the players and officials, it’s prudent that the Hero I-League 2021-22 be postponed by at least 6 weeks, a fact which was corroborated by all the participating clubs in the meeting,” an I-League statement read.
A review meeting is set to be held after four weeks to check the future course of action.
“We know very little about the situation right now. If this is true, we can look at it in two ways. One is that we have been in the bio-bubble for a good three months and this is an opportunity to just get out and maybe meet family and friends. The other way to look at it is to feel that all our efforts have been compromised to some extent,” said Punjab FC player CK Vineeth.