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Bend it, with buddies

The Maidan greens enjoyed some super soccer action early on Saturday evening as the Calcutta Parsee Club held the finals of its annual Invitational Five-a-side Football Tournament 2012.

Starting on March 24, the tourney saw 33 corporate teams and 16 clubs sweat it out across 143 games and five thunderstorms to reach the finals on April 21. The matches were split into two categories — corporate and club — and were open not only to club and office teams but also informal groups of friends.

“We are all passionate about football, so when we found that this tournament allowed friends to form groups, we grabbed the opportunity to come and play. There is hardly any competition in the city that allows amateurs like us to enter,” said Rahul Sengupta of MPB, a group of eight ex-students of MP Birla Foundation Higher Secondary School.

Participating clubs included CC&FC and Dalhousie Institute while the corporate category had teams from TCS, Cognizant, IBM, HSBC, Standard Chartered, Magma, ITC, Jet Airways, Berger, Genpact, Vodafone and Selvel.

“We have been participating in this tournament for the past 10 years. Here we get to interact with the entire football fraternity of the city,” said Sanjay Rae of ITC.

The Parsee Club, tucked away behind the Calcutta Judo Club on Mayo Road, was set up in 1908. “The club is 103 years old and even though the number of active members has dwindled, we are still the only club playing in the major leagues. You would find our team at any outdoor sporting event, be it football, cricket, hockey or basketball,” said Cyrus Confectioner, the club vice-president.

The club organises a number of sports and fun events through the year. The tin and bottle intra-club tennis tournament, for example, charges a tin or bottle full of goodies as the entry fee, which the winner gets to take home!

On Saturday, as the teams sweated it out on the field, families and friends cheered from the sidelines. Some kids started their own match in another corner of the field.

“Ours is a very family-oriented club. Many Parsis who have left the city come back and say that they haven’t come across such a spirited club anywhere else,” smiled club president Jimmy Vatcha.

Not just footwork, Saturday was also about fine food. “This is the first time we have Parsi dishes on the menu during a tournament, along with other cuisines. There are no Parsi restaurants where one can get a taste of our food,” said Ratan Postwalla, a member.

Parsi dishes served included Prawn Patia, Sali Ma Marghi (chicken with potato sticks), Pora Pau (Parsi-style omelette with breads) and Akoori (eggs). “Thanks to the club, we got to taste some rare Parsi dishes that we wouldn’t have got elsewhere,” said Sourav Banerjee, another MPB boy.

The four-week long tournament ended with Team Virtuoso bagging the Corporate Main Plate and Team ITC taking home the Corporate Silver Plate. XYZ, a group of friends, won the Club Main Plate, while MPB defeated the home team to claim the Club Silver Plate.

The day ended with dance and dinner, powered by Dhansakh, prawn kebabs, mutton keema and many other Parsi delights.