Naresh Ojha chats with t2 at CC&FC. Picture by Sanjoy Chattopadhyaya
They say first impression is the last impression. And if you were to meet Naresh Ojha you would definitely conclude that here’s one meticulous man. For his first interview to t2 after being appointed the president of CC&FC, he reveals that he has penned a four-page history of the 220-year-old club! “I did not want to get the facts wrong,” he smiles as he narrates the journey of the club. You cannot miss a sense of pride in his voice when he says, “CC&FC is steeped in history, which very few of the clubs are.... Personally, I feel, we have some excellent social clubs in Calcutta, but CC&FC is one of the finest sports clubs with social activities in India. I would rate it the finest!”
So, it comes as no surprise when he tells you that being club president is not work for him. “This is my passion. You tell me in the middle of the night or at two in the morning to come to the club and I will come! It is a pleasure and a privilege and I am enjoying it. My duty now is to take the club forward,” he smiles.
Nostalgia reigns supreme as he recalls how he became a member of the 19/1 Gurusaday Road club in 1988, sports being the lure. “Where the years have passed I don’t know! I had the occasion of playing a lot of cricket and rugby as a youngster here. You cannot ask for a better sporting place. It was purely sports that got me and CC&FC together. I was 27-28 then,” says Ojha who has played Ranji trophy for Saurashtra, club cricket on the Maidan, and also captained CC&FC in rugby. Was rugby a popular sport back then? “I am talking about a good 25 years back and it was as popular as it is today. Rugby has never lost its lustre at CC&FC. In fact, it has grown by 20 per cent.”
In his two-year term, Ojha wants to take his “second home”, where he spends more time than his own house on Lansdowne Road, to a new level “in terms of making it the best in India”. His most trusted allies? An efficient back-office and “fabulous” ground staff who always wear a big smile on their faces.
Sports, as always, will be priority for the CC&FC boss. “The past presidents have done a wonderful job in preserving the sporting activities. They have tried to grow from there,” he says. The club has five “core” sports in cricket, football, hockey, rugby and tennis with some “enormous pool of talent in tennis, soccer and cricket”. Ojha himself enjoys a game of tennis now and then and relishes the “lovely bonhomie”.
His favourite pastime? The adda over a drink following a tennis match.
His hottest hangout? The greens and the tennis court.
His best bites? The onion pakodas and some of the Italian and Chinese dishes.
Coming up on the club calendar is a busy cricket season. Ojha is also looking forward to hosting ol’ boy Leander Paes at the club soon. “He is a member and has grown up in CC&FC. He hasn’t played much of tennis here though. Whenever he is here, he plays soccer and cricket.”
Sports apart, there is no neglecting the club’s “social side” too. “We have a fabulous social side where we have the best of nights on Wednesdays and Saturdays.... And we would soon be gearing up for the festive season ahead!”
t2 says all the best!