Have you heard about this Kolkata croquet tournament set to host its 11th edition?
When it comes to sporty winter games, Kolkattans take it very seriously, especially if the upcoming eleventh edition of the Annual Croquet Tournament (ACT) is any proof. If you thought the grass-playing sport was a lost athletic form, Kolkata-based businessman Shubham Agarwala has some news for you. For the past decade, Agarwala along with Raghav Gupta and Samir Kanoria has been setting up a friendly but competitive croquet tournament annually at an Alipore property which has a sprawling lawn.
“Croquet needs an expansive green playing area; this tournament actually started in our Hungerford Street home in the 80s, it started with my father’s friends. As kids, we were also part of the competitions. We decided to bring it back in 2010; one of my friends’ home at Burdwan Road has a lawn and we found it to be perfect,” Agarwala reveals about the tournament, scheduled to be held on January 6.
Croquet, was, of course, popularised by the British colonies, and found a very significant relevance in the country; today, many clubs across the city, house croquet lawns where you can spot people leisurely indulging in the sport. Though ACT is held between familiar faces every year, Agarwala reveals that the playbook of rules are just as rigid as any other league-based tournament and is a week-long affair.
“There are 20 teams, each team has two participants, one male and another female. The twenty teams are divided between four groups, each group having five teams. These teams play against each other in the league matches. There eight league matches every day from Monday to Friday. On Saturday, we have four quarter-finals, and on Sunday we have two semi-finals and a final. We also make sure no one team is too competent, or too slow and that there’s a balance. The prize is, of course, a trophy!” Agarwala tells us.
Agarwala also tells us that the week-long tournament is also a chance for people to unwind from their busy schedules, especially as the game is quite intense. All league matches are two-hour-long, while the quarter-final will of 2.5 hours long, whereas the semi-finals will last for three hours. “Croquet has such a rich history as a winter sport, and every year fashion is at its best in the tournament, as all participants really dress up really well with the latest sneakers, jackets, shades, hats, etc. It’s essentially a week-long carnival that each and every participant looks forward to,” Agarwala remarks.