Sports

West Bengal lacks the vision and personality to regain old glory

Saba Nayakan Kolkata | Updated on March 12, 2018

Jagmohan Dalmiya

Jagmohan Dalmiya rose to the position of the President of the Board of Control for Cricket in India. He was also the first President of the International Cricket Council. At present, he is the interim President of the Board.

Once known as the sporting capital of India, Kolkata has lost its pre-eminence over the years. There can be many reasons for the decline; the main ones could be non-availability of adequate sponsorship, and to a great extent, the State Government’s apathy towards supporting the cause of sport.

Also, Bengal helped establish many sporting associations and went on to give shape to many national federations.

The Indian Football Association (IFA) is one such State body which came into existence much before the national body — the All India Football Federation (AIFF). The Bengal Amateur Boxing Federation (BABF) became the guiding light in creating the National federation, the Indian Amateur Boxing Federation (IABF). P. L. Roy of Bengal, then a champion boxer, became the father Indian boxing with his exploits in a British dominated sport.

Another very important reason in Bengal’s decline from the National scenario is the paucity of leaders at the all-India level. There were many individuals who rose to occupy the post of President or Secretary-General in national federations, thus giving an edge to Bengal.

Among them, Jagmohan Dalmiya rose to the position of the President of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI). He went one step further by occupying the coveted seat of the first President of the International Cricket Council (ICC). At present, he is the interim President of the Board.

Many from Bengal occupied minor chairs in national federations and in the Indian Olympic Association. Positions such as vice-presidents, treasurer or joint secretary or even committee members have gone to many. But those who are being discussed here are some of the prominent ones.

Priya Ranjan Das Munshi and Biswanath Dutt served as the chief of the AIFF and BCCI, respectively. P.N. Roy was the president of the Billiards and Snooker Federation of India for many years. Dilip Bhattacharya served as the President of the Volleyball Federation of India (VFI) for three terms and Dilip Mitra headed the Swimming Federation of India for years. B. K. Saha (basketball), Asoke Ghosh (kho-kho) and Kalyan Ghosh (rowing) were also the all-India Presidents.

Asian Games

The man who made a name for himself was Achintya Kumar Saha. As the secretary of the Amateur Kabaddi Federation of India, Saha introduced the sport in the Asian Games and ensured India won gold medals. Gopal Khanra was the secretary of the Weightlifting Federation of India. Asoke Ghosh, as the secretary of the AIFF, shared the stage with then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi when he organised the first Jawaharlal Nehru Gold Cup at Kolkata in early 80s. Also he brought to India international soccer for the first time.

Raj Bengani contributed a lot as the secretary of the Lawn Bowling Federation of India. And Paresh Nath Mukherjee tried his level best to earn an Olympic medal in archery as the secretary general.

Old timers rue the fact that the present lot was more into infighting and lacked the vision and personality to emerge as the top official in the country. Here, too, Bengal will need a renaissance to recapture the past glory.

>sabanayakan.s@thehindu.co.in

Published on July 28, 2013

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