I have spent a sizable portion of the best years of my life watching my kids play Cricket with their friends, cousins, uncles, school teams, peons, staff and of course their Dad!
Every day after school, when home work was done, my young lads would make a dash for the playground. They took pride in their leg pads and gloves, helmets et al. As they grew up, studies took the front foot and cricket faded somewhere into the backdrop. Nevertheless, they never missed any match on TV where India was playing.
A few years ago, some local cricketers came to my husband, Sanjay Tandon, and requested him to take up the cause of the UTCA. The association had been trying to get recognition from the BCCI for years. Most people who had tried their hand at it had given up, frustrated at the exercise being one in futility. Sanjay took it up in all earnest and decided to give it his best shot. It is no less than a miracle that he was able to get the affiliation from BCCI for the Union Territory Cricket Association, Chandigarh (UTCA). And then came the biggest bonanza – the permission to play all BCCI domestic matches, including Ranji Trophy!
All these years, budding cricketers from Chandigarh had to enroll into either Punjab’s or Haryana’s teams. It goes without saying that since only a limited number of players could be selected to play in the team, only one or two children from Chandigarh could get a chance to get into the Punjab or Haryana teams. So, a number of talented children from Chandigarh were left broken-hearted.
Talent for anything, I guess, is inborn. But the skill has to be honed. The art has to be perfected. Practice is the only thing that makes a player perfect. Besides that, a good coach, along with mental and physical strength, are indispensable.
With the BCCI bonanza for Chandigarh, all of a sudden the aspiring cricketers from Chandigarh have a twinkle in their eyes; their faces are shining and there is a distinct spring in their step. Suddenly, there is a need for coaches, selectors, physiotherapists, fitness coaches etc. etc. Suddenly, the big names in Indian cricket are looking at Chandigarh with keen interest.
This is big! Chandigarh would have a team of its own! The stadium will soon get a face lift and so will the mood and enthusiasm of the cricket fans of the city. Our boys will be playing, Senior level, Under 23, Under 19 and Under 16. Our girls will play Senior level, Under 23 and Under 19!
The Cricket stadium in Sector 16 has been a neglected property for years. Soon it shall become a hub for nurturing talent and providing a platform to many a talented youngster. For everything to work out, we need commitment, hard work, transparency, accountability and talent. Sanjay Tandon has taken on something very big. It is his commitment to deliver that shall see him through. The nuances of anything new are difficult to comprehend, but when the intention is to make it happen, it shall surely work out. For where there is a will, there surely is a way! It is his dream and commitment to provide a platform for children who have talent. This is an endeavour where everything will be transparent and decisions and selections shall be done without fear or favour.
Cricket is a religion for some. They practice it every day … all day long. There are people who eat cricket, sleep cricket, think cricket, dream cricket … it does not end!
The Cricket bug has suddenly bitten the city and the cricket fever is on. The Ranji Trophy and other domestic matches are on, and Chandigarh is rearing to go. The excitement is palpable. Can you feel it?
By Priya Tandon