A sudden invitation landed me on a football ground in Salt Lake, as me, the crazy football lover did not want to miss an opportunity to witness the game I love. I was kind of a new face in the tournament, organized by Devrup Jyoti Gupta and his team of UKFC but feeling odd was out of the question. Sanjib Basu ( owner of Jarnail Jaguars) or rather, Sanjibda, as I call him had invited me to the event and thanks to him and Devrup or DJ ( as Devrup Jyoti is popularly known to everyone) and others like Anirban , Biswanath da, Indrajitda never made the ‘spectator-me’ feel out of the place. Known faces of Biswanathda and Indrajitda greeted me as I entered the pavilion and the dribbles of the players blended with the soft drizzles tweaked a day I was going to remember forever in my life.
I have known about UKFC and seen their players playing in other tournaments but UKFC Kolkata Shield 2015 was the first of their tournament I have been to, and as I write this article, I feel lucky that I did. A queer strangeness was familiarized in the slipped passes, some worthy goals and some amazing saves, especially by Jarnail Jaguar’s goalie, Abhishek Mondal. The indolent humidity was conquered by the trinkets of enthusiasm embellished by the adroit management, the dedication of the players and their owners. In the knock-out tournament where teams from other states like Bhubaneswar, Jarnail Jaguars fought through the series of matches to win the championship.
Tthe downpour played hide-and-seek with us, the football ground wove the canvas of football romanticism as the love for the game was expressed in the organizers’ constant presence on the field, the support of the spectators and above all owners’ love for their players. My eyes never failed to spot the absence of the management who were always ready with water and first aid for people they didn’t even know before the game started. Finally, in the lap of the blooming dusk, as Jarnail Jaguars were playing their final match, goalie Abhishek Mondal got injured. Even before his teammates could reach him, Sanjibda had run into the field, like a father, trying to save his son. Football romanticism!! Well, definitely yes!! It defined the tournament for the UKFC Kolkata Shield 2015 was just more than a tournament; it was a tribute to Debankur Chatterjee , one of the core members of UKFC who was leaving Kolkata to pursue his MBA. It’s just a new way to define this growing culture of football, a romantic one, woven by the rhyme of a cult, of a religion called football.
Before you consider my blogpost to end, ( assuming I have talked about almost everything), wait, there’s a little more to it !! The Chief guest!! Never knew I would get to click a picture of Shilton Paul. I have always said that I am a #proud_macha . Yes, and this #proud_macha gets to click a picture with THE SHILTON PAUL. Thanks a lot DJ, for this. Managing 32 teams ( with so many unknown faces) in a 7-a side game with bringing the goalie of Mohun Bagan as a chief guest, well , you redefined football glamour. A farewell match could not be more grand.
It was tournament to cherish and more words are waiting to be inked on the pages. Congratulations JJ for winning, specially Sanjib da, Biswanath da, Indrajitda, DJ and Anirban.