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Competition tees off in debut club carnival

It’s carnival time in Calcutta, but this is the first one of its kind. For the three-day Inter City Club Sports tournament, starting on April 4, nine of the premier clubs in the city have got together for one reason — to portray “our city” as a “happening hub” and highlight the fact that “Calcutta has the best club culture in the country”.

It started off as an idea that cropped up over breakfast one morning among a group of friends, who were upset about the fact that Calcutta was increasingly being considered as a place not worth visiting. “That is the notion we want to dispel, and to make people sit up and realise that clubs in Calcutta are an old and integral part of the city’s social life, which is very much alive,” explains Dipak Dutta, co-ordinator of the event.

So, Calcutta Club, Bengal Club, Tollygunge Club, Saturday Club, Calcutta Cricket & Football Club (CC&FC), Calcutta Swimming Club (CSC), Calcutta Racquet Club, Bengal Rowing Club (BRC) and Royal Calcutta Golf Club (RCGC), along with the army’s Fort William Club, have taken it upon themselves to spread the word far and wide. In all, 23 clubs, from Dhaka to Delhi, Bhubaneswar to Bangalore and Jamshedpur to Jaipur, will compete in five events — golf at RCGC, swimming at CSC, snooker at BRC, bridge at Calcutta Club and tennis at Saturday Club and Tollygunge Club.

“There have been a few disappointments. Teams from Hong Kong and Singapore cancelled at the last minute, because of the pneumonia virus spreading through the region. But the overall response has been good and the preparations have been going according to plan. Every club has provided two to six rooms, depending on availability, to the participating teams, with meals on the house,” says Dutta.

The clubs themselves are gearing up for the fun and games. Saturday Club has a cultural programme planned for Friday evening, followed by drinks and dancing to music played by DJs.

On Saturday is another social evening at CC&FC, and the grand finale on Sunday, including the prize distribution ceremony, with performances by Rhythmscape, led by percussionist Bikram Ghosh, and singer Rakshanda from Mumbai, will be held at Calcutta Club.

Prashant Binnany of CSC says the participants are in a “holiday mood” and raring to go. “The members, too, are all set to cheer their favourite teams to victory. We expect a good crowd,” he sums up.

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