Indian junior footballer Anwar Ali, considered among the most promising footballers in the country is facing a tough choice as a severe health condition threatens to derail his career.
Ali, who was part of India’s U-17 World Cup squad that played the 2017 Fifa U-17 World Cup was diagnosed with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, a condition where the heart muscle wall becomes abnormally thick and affects the pumping of blood.
Former Bolton Wanderers midfielder Fabrice Muamba also faced a similar condition when he collapsed during a Premier League game and was forced to retire.
However, for 20-year-old Ali, football was a way to earn livelihood for his family.
“We have limited means, and my son’s earnings from football helped us a lot,” Ali’s father Razak told The Indian Express.
“But this is about Anwar’s health and happiness. It’s a dilemma I wish no one else faces,” he added.
The All India Football Federation have referred his case to the medical committee who will take a call about whether he should be able to continue his football career.
“They want to get an independent opinion from an expert. Based on the doctor’s analysis, we will take a decision. It will be a tough decision because it involves a player who could be the future of Indian football,” an AIFF official told Indian Express.
Ali was summoned for Indian senior national team camp in 2019 but a medical examination revealed that he had a congenital heart condition.
Mumbai City FC, who had signed him as an 18-year-old from Minerva Punjab, referred him to many top cardiologists in Mumbai who felt continuing to train would prove to be a health risk for Ali. A specialist in France also had a similar diagnosis.
However, Ali was offered a contract by Mohammedan Sporting recently after few specialists in Jalandhar and Chandigarh said that it wouldn’t be a major risk if he continued to play.
Now, his parents are in a dilemma whether to allow him to pursue his dream or hold him back in order to avoid any health risk.
“I hope the federation allows my son to play… only because it will make him happy. But for us, his health is foremost too. Bas dua dena bacche ko (Please pray for the child).”