Anwar Ali is regarded as one of the best young centre back India currently has. But the young Indian centre back has been told to stop training and playing by the All India Football Federation after he was diagnosed with APCIAL HYPERCARDIO MYOPATHY, an extremely rare form of the already uncommon Hypercardio Myopathy (HCM).
Anwar Ali has been playing football since the age of 6 but he was never diagnosed with any health issues. He made his name while representing the National team in the U17 World Cup. No Indian football fan can forget his stunning freekick against Argentina U20 which gave us a historic result. Anwar Ali was signed by Mumbai City FC from Minerva Punjab and was immediately loaned back to Indian Arrows. He showed his heroics in the Hero I League by marshalling the Arrows defense. Next season, he came back at Mumbai City FC and was also called up the senior National team.
It was during one of the medical tests that a slight anomaly was noticed in Anwar’s ECG, which promoted Mumbai City FC to investigate further. He was taken to a cardiologist in Mumbai’s famous Nanavati hospital where Anwar Ali underwent another ECG, EKG study and Cardiac MRI and was diagnosed with APCIAL HYPERCARDIO MYOPATHY. Anwar Ali travelled to Rennes, France to consult the expert doctors there.
Professor F. Carré (Head of Sports Medicine at CHU Rennes) France said, “So we can see the level of risk, the level of risk concerning Anwar is low because when we have in European Society of Cardiology, we have risk calculator and so the risk is about 2.5 to 2.8. The risk is high when you are at 6. However, we do not take the fact that when you play, when you participate in high intensity sport you increase your risk. Because sport like football for example during match of football you increase the level of adrenaline so you are at risk. Do not have a good calculator all of them say that you increase your risk between 2 – 3 so the risk is not at 2.5 but about 7- 7.8, that is your first point.”
“However it is to my opinion that I see that the risk of Anwar Ali is not very high but Anwar is 19 years old and if Anwar wants to do football every year he must have cardiac screening every year. I think it is the decision of his Family and Anwar Ali however it is proposed in the US Recommendation if he has all the security around him and you must have the acceptance of the club”, Professor F. Carré continued.
Anwar Ali hasn’t played professional football since then and was released by Mumbai City FC. Mohammedan Sporting signed him few weeks ago when Dr. Raman Chawla declared that Anwar can continue his footballing activities. But AIFF have told Anwar Ali to stop training for the time being.
We have seen previously that players having cardiovascular disease were allowed to play by AIFF. Dipendu Biswas was released by Mahindra United when they came to know about his heart condition (likely to cause sudden death). He was later signed by clubs like Mohun Bagan and went on to have a successful career by scoring 250 goals without ever having a heart episode. Anwar Ali senior had a heart attack while on the field for East Bengal in training and was rushed to the hospital by his teammates. He survived the incident and played for Punjab FC in the next season.
Anwar, who hails from very humble roots has been able to uplift his family from extreme poverty by playing football professionally. He has 3 sisters and is responsible for their care and education. In a letter to AIFF, Anwar said, “Your disqualification of me will be a death sentence for me and my family. 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.”
Anwar also said, “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.”
To play in any AIFF based competition, the player needs to be fit to play according PCMA form which is filled out before the competition. Till date, Anwar has submitted all the PCMA test reports and has fulfilled all required medical criteria of AIFF. Various doctors including Professor F. Carré have told Anwar that he can train and play professional football until he can notice his condition with regular scans and take necessary precaution like having an AED (Automated external defibrillator) along with a person who is trained to use it.
In such a scenario, you’ve got to feel for the player. We’ve heard of rags to riches stories, but rags to riches and then back to rags seems harsh. Anwar is ready to take the risk, but the AIFF seems to be standing by its decision. A very rare sight in Indian Football, one which hopefully isn’t seen again.