Bengal look for consolation win
Vijayan sets new goals
Steve to sponsor polio victim
Students’ day out with Steve

Thrissur, April 21 
It has been quite a comedown. Twenty-nine-time champions, six straight victories till last year, and tomorrow Bengal will be fighting for the third place against Goa. The 56th edition of the national football championship for the Santosh Trophy has been bad for Bengal.

Coach Shankar Moitra laments how his players failed to come back after the revivals (even after Raman Vijayan’s equaliser), and believes tomorrow, at least, “sanity will prevail”. However, what was evident in the second semi-final versus Maharashtra yesterday was the sheer unwillingness of the players in the Bengal team to get involved. To this extent, Moitra has not been able to exort any influence, reduced to pleading for attention.

Probably the Indian Football Association should shake off some its own lethargy and look into the matter. Moitra did not quite say it, but the message was clear: If the players feel thaie contracts with clubs back home were the be-all and end-all of everything, it was better they stayed out and not sully Bengal’s reputation at the national championships.

The calls to Calcutta have confirmed the lack of involvement too. Moitra’s laments about poor supervision sounds too hollow. Moitra intends to try out a couple of fresh faces tomorrow.

Markus Pachelo, the Goan coach, is unhappy Kerala could not be contained. “It was not an impossible task. They played well, but we could have pulled it off.” The problem lay in the confidence of the team. The “big team” aura and the “home team” problem, left fleet-footed stars like Alvito D’Cunha straddled with marking problems.

If Bengal decide to play soccer tomorrow, they will surely be marking out D’Cunha. That is essential, considering the rickety nature of the Bengal defence. Goa, on the other hand, could be using Maharashtra’s tactics — speed, constant attacks and no retsing. The Bengal stupor needs to end tomorrow.

Changes are unlikely in the Goan team. Moitra can alter the forward-line and he remains worried about the half-line, reduced to one man — Basudeb Mondal —yesterday. What he plans to do is not clear though.

Whatever of the outcome, it will merely be a consolation win for whoever does.    

Thrissur, April 21 
I.M. Vijayan has decided to outgrow his skin. Today he formalised his I.M. Vijayan Sports Foundation plan, to “promote soccer at the grassroot level” and to “create a fund for players’ welfare.”

The concept is not new, the positioning is. The Thrissur superstar has decided, quite in Mithun Chakraborty style, to organise a gala soccer match — the Super Stars XI versus I.M. Vijayan XI, on April 27 at the Thrissur Municipal Stadium to kick off the fund-raising programme. While the I.M. Vijayan XI will comprise Kerala soccer greats like Jiju Jacob, Pappachan, V.P. Sathyan, U. Sharaf Ali, Xavier Pius, Olympian Rehman, Jo Paul Ancheri and others(apart from Vijayan), the Super Stars XI will have movie stars like Mohanlal, Mamooty and others in fray.

The idea is novel, though, in this part of the country, and considering the near manic support movies and movie stars enjoy here, the funds collection could be considerable, though Vijayan has “no fixed target” for it. Vijayan said even Mithun Chakraborty has agreed to put in an appearence for the cause.

Vijayan, who is a sort of folklore in these parts, said the main objective of this is to “give back to soccer part of all that I have got from it.” And Vijayan’s gains have been considerable. If sports goods shops in Calcutta take pride in putting up pictures of Sourav Ganguly, many shop signboards here proudly depict Vijayan’s pictures.

The basic objectives of the project will be to support talent at grassroot levels, set up training facilities and infrastructure, fund and train youngsters, create a talent pool of players and trainers, invite foreign coaches for camps and workshops here, to look at tie-ups with like-minded organisation abroad, and, finally to extend facilities to other sports disciplines as well. Active football career destined for the backburner, Vijayan could emerge as a bigger hero through this project of his.    

Calcutta, April 21 
Not content with doing everything possible for a girls’ wing at Udayan, Steve Waugh took one more step that will endear him even more to those who find themselves at a disadvantage: This afternoon, the Australian captain decided to sponsor polio-stricken Lakhi Kumari, daughter of one of the leprosy victims.

Steve saw Lakhi, seven, during his trip to Udayan yesterday and so moved was he by the girl’s courage that he chose to personally try and make her life better than it would have been.

“She reminded me of my paternal grandmother (Ella May), also a polio victim, who even at 87 refuses to use a wheelchair. This is one way of saluting her,” Steve told The Telegraph shortly before leaving for home late tonight.

The initial sponsorship is, according to the rules, for ten years. Later, it can be extended, according to a spokesperson of the Calcutta Girls’ Foundation, which is closely associated with Udayan.    

Calcutta, April 21 
It was Steve Waugh’s turn again to spend some time with city children. But today, he was in slightly different company.

After yesterday’s session with the underprivileged residents of Udayan, students from different schools shared some unforgettable moments with the Australian skipper at the CC&FC.

The idea was to raise funds for the Calcutta Girls’ Foundation which in turn, will use the money for the betterment of Udayan.

The students, in groups of 20, posed with Steve for photographs which they will have to buy for Rs 200 per copy. They also received an autographed photo of the player. T-shirts signed by Steve were also sold, at Rs 300 each.

According to organisers, nearly 500 group photos will be sold which is likely to fetch Rs 1 lakh. Not all will be bought by the students though, as some parents were also seen in the queue.

In his brief speech, Steve urged the students to help Udayan and leprosy victims in whichever way they can. The organisers said Steve is likely to return in February or March next year.

The children also feasted on snacks and drinks, courtesy Britannia and Druk. The event wasco-ordinated by Altair.    


Reflecting may beat Seychelles

Four well-bred juveniles — Gorgeous Princess, Reflecting, Seychelles and Polonarooa — are set to cross swords in the 1,600m Satinello Trophy, the main event at the Mumbai races on Saturday. Reflecting and Seychelles, however, have already displayed their comfort over trips beyond sharp sprints. Therefore, the two are expected to decide the outcome of the race. Between the two, Reflecting appears to have a slight edge and the Dallas Todywalla-trainee, in the hands of K. P. Appu, may triumph.


3.30 pm: Dancing Dreams 1. Valid Appeal 2. Maestro 3.

4 pm: Baccarose 1. Naughty Girl 2. Red Trident 3.

4.30 pm: Stolichnaya 1. Majesty Of Law 2. Flying Home 3.

5 pm: Future Arrives 1. Brave Venture 2. Yewall 3.

5.30 pm: Reflecting 1. Seychelles 2. Polonarooa 3.

5.55 pm: Kibriya 1. High Voltage 2. Fiery Angel 3.

6.35 pm: Prime Of Life 1. La Tour D’Argent 2. Ancestry 3.

Day’s Best: Baccarose Double: Stolichnaya & Future Arrives.    


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