Exclusive! Get a look inside the Annual Croquet Tournament's 11th edition on Kolkata
Kolkattans are already in the winter sport spirit and the Annual Croquet Tournament had a very timely kick-off this week. We dropped by on the first day of the week-long tournament, and found two sessions of league matches in full swing. The tournament which is hosting its 11th edition, is being held at a Burdwan Road property which luckily has an expansive lawn. Being a grass-playing game, croquet needs quite a bit of playing field, and while some might call it a lost athletic form, Kolkata-based businessman Shubham Agarwala thinks otherwise.
"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,” says Agarwala, who is one of the main hosts along with Raghav Gupta and Samir Kanoria. Agarwala himself was busy playing in one of the league matches when we dropped by at the venue on January 6. We discovered that the teams had already been made and there are set to be 20 teams, each with two players, one male and one 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," said Agarwala. The ground was also set up to let the players unwind and socialise a bit between matches, with piping hot coffee and refreshments at the ready. Agarwala revealed that the match started out between a few friends and their families and to this day, is a intimate affair, and is loyal to the social aspects of a winter sport, especially since croquet has a history as a community or a society affar.