Cricket is in the blood of Indians! It evokes friendships, fights, passions, emotions and even patriotism! Since Sanjay Tandon knocked the doors of the Supreme Court and got the coveted BCCI affiliation for the UT Cricket Association of Chandigarh in 2019, the sky became the limit for Chandigarh cricketers. Since then, UTCA has groomed youngsters to perfect their game and has also played Ranji Matches. UTCA now has teams for Under-16,19,23 and seniors …
The ongoing Allengers-Gully Cricket Tournament, powered by Tynor, is like a carnival of sorts. On April 6, at the inaugural function in Cricket Stadium-16, the exhilaration of 2448+ children of 204 teams was palpable. The children have been sourced from the gullies of Chandigarh. Any group of 12 children, aged 14-18 years, could make a team and register free of cost with their local Police Beatbox. The Chandigarh Police streamlined the logistics. All the children were given jerseys with the slogan, ‘Balla Ghumaao, Nasha Bhagaao’, along with lowers and caps, designed especially for this tournament. The glee on their faces was heart-warming! Majority of them wouldn’t have dreamt that they would ever get to enter the precincts of a real cricket stadium! The movie Lagaan was screened on a giant size LED. Knockout matches are being played daily from April 6-23, in local schools and playgrounds. On April 23rd, the last two teams shall exult in the joy of playing in Cricket Stadium-16.
Every man is a little boy at heart and I saw it in the exhibition matches played by those not so young! With salt and pepper in their hair and beards, pot-bellies, bald-heads, wrinkles, crow’s feet, spondylitis, varicose veins … albeit with young hearts, they were more than enthusiastic and jubilant! The matches wherein PGI doctors won over Amar Ujala, Press Club defeated IMA, Punjab MLAs routed Haryana MLAs, Advisor-11 beat UTCA-11, were played with childlike passion and were no less than a treat to watch! And soon we shall witness IRS-11 vs CA-11, High Court Judges vs High court lawyers and Mayor-11 vs DGP-11. Whoa!
Earlier, Chandigarh’s young cricketers faced step-child treatment because they had to play for Haryana, Punjab or Himachal Pradesh. Sanjay Tandon was approached by the cricketing community to pull UTCA out of the rut it was in. The association was aging and rusting with no support or funds, being not affiliated to BCCI. Sanjay Tandon took over as President of UTCA in 2016. He had a vision to make this a breeding ground for budding talent in the city.
Truly when leaders are moved, they create a movement! Gully Cricket promises to dig up new talent and who knows, we may have another Kapil Dev in the making!
On the last day, 204 teams shall get Cricket-Kits and all 2448 children shall get shoes with a message, “Let your steps always move in the right direction! Keep playing!” UTCA is blazing the trail, for making Gully Cricket a Nation-wide movement for Nasha Mukti … Howzzat Umpire!!!
This article has been published in Daily World on the Editorial page on 20.04.2023