Stopping me from playing is a death sentence: Anwar Ali | Goa News

PANAJI: Anwar Ali doesn’t know what the future has in store for him. Whether he will feature in the top-tier league, or end up playing non-recognised tournaments to make a living.
It was not like this a little over a year ago when he inked a lucrative contract with Mumbai City FC. When he played every minute of India’s campaign in the Fifa U-17 World Cup 2017, he was the cynosure of all eyes, and for the three years that he was at Indian Arrows, he was in a league of his own.
Now, he has seen his dreams crumble in front of his eyes. His congenital heart condition — an extremely rare form of the already uncommon Hypercardio Myopathy (HCM) — means the AIFF medical committee needs to take a call on his playing career. But how do you tell a 20-year-old, the sole bread earner of his large family, that his career is over even before it kicks off?
“Article 21 of the Indian Constitution guarantees me the right to earn a livelihood for myself. If I wish to take an informed risk and am ready to monitor my condition with the help of medical experts, then it is ultimately my choice, whether I wish to take the risk of playing football professionally.
“If any club feels that they do not wish to take the risk to play me, they will not sign me, but if I am willing and my club is willing and I am ready to take necessary precautions then I do not see how my right to earn my bread and butter can be taken away from me,” Anwar wrote in a detailed letter running into 57 pages – with documentary evidences and medical reports – to the AIFF on Tuesday.
It is easy to tell why Anwar is desperate to play football. The sport is an escape route for him and his family from the poverty that they have seen all these years. If that skill is taken away, he’s left with nothing. For someone who grew up grazing cattle in a small dairy farm that his father owns in Adampur, a small Punjab village, he believes there’s no other way.
“If not for football, I would have also been grazing cattle today. Being a large family and me being the only earning member, it is very difficult for us to make ends meet even when I am earning as a professional footballer,” said Anwar.
Depending on which medical opinion you look at, Anwar has low, medium or high risk of a cardiac arrest on the field, possibly leading to his death. It’s a scary situation for everyone: the player, club and even the federation. But for Anwar, there are bigger fears.
“Football is the only thing I know, and if AIFF bans me, I’ll be forced to play in low level tournaments like Khep in Kolkata to make ends meet. There are no medical facilities in these tournaments, so the chances of me dying on the field will be much higher. Your disqualification of me will be a death sentence for me and my family. I beg you to let me play,” said Anwar, who has joined Mohammedan Sporting, competing in the Second Division I-League next month.
Until Anwar’s 57-page letter, the AIFF’s medical committee – after looking at all available medical reports, including one from a specialist in France – had “verbally” agreed that the youngster shouldn’t be allowed to play or even train.
Anwar, though, has pointed out how footballers with similar conditions in the past like Dipendu Biswas, and Anwar Ali Senior’s heart attack on the field while with East Bengal, did not lead to any AIFF intervention.
“There is more risk of me and my family dying from hunger if my only earning source is taken from me, than there is of me dying from Sudden Cardiac Death (SCD) on the field while playing,” pointed out Anwar, dismayed that he has not been given a personal hearing by the medical committee.
Since receiving the letter and audio transcripts of his appointment with Dr F. Carre, head of sports medicine at CHU Rennes in France, the medical committee has delayed its ‘official’ decision. Either way, it’s going to be a tough call.

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