| Maharana Athletic Club |
Jan. 10: Established in 1907 and known as Lago Shyama Club for a brief period, Maharana Athletic Club has the history of producing most of the leading footballers of the state, including legendary Olympian Talimeren Ao.
Into its 106th year, the historic club has embarked on a mission to produce more players like Ao, Sarat Das and Manoranjan Banerjee for the nation, by proposing to open a football academy to mark its centenary year celebrations, starting January 20.
Announcing the programmes and activities lined up to celebrate the year, club president Kanak Kumar Bora today said the yearlong programme would commence with a half-marathon of 21km for men and 15km for women at 6.30am on January 20.
“It will be flagged off by Arjuna awardee Bhogeswar Barua in the presence of Olympians Jayanta Talukdar and Shiva Thapa. Later that day, we will hold a cultural function at the District Library in the evening, where Talukdar and Thapa will be felicitated along with 10 others associated with the club as organisers and sportspersons,” Bora said.
The winner will pocket Rs 25,000 in cash and the runner-up will get Rs 15,000. The third to 10th position holders will also go home richer by Rs 5,000 per head.
About the academy, the club’s general secretary, Amiya Kalita, said they were in contact with several organisations and establishments for a ground to create the infrastructure.
If the academy materialises, it will be the fourth in the state, after Gauhati Town Club, Green Valley Sports Club and Numaligarh Refinery Ltd.
Bora said the sports activities marking the year would start with a state-level hockey tournament, as the club had made its first public appearance by participating in a hockey tournament in October 1907.
“Other events include college-level sports quiz, volleyball tournament in suburban areas, district-level athletics meets, a women’s football tournament in rural areas, exhibition football matches between two I-League teams and celebrities from different fields, sports-related seminars, a documentary film festival on football theme and techniques, blood donation and free health check- up camps and others,” Bora said.
“The year will conclude with a mega cultural show,” he added.
About the five-year delay in observing the year, Kalita said financial constraints apart from the lack of spirit and other aspects delayed the process.
“Since we assumed office in 2009, we have been trying to overcome the various constraints and now we are in a position to celebrate,” he added.
“Apart from the various programmes that we propose to undertake, we are also going to set up a gym and improve the club house, which had been vacated by the tenants who were occupying the building since we purchased it 1978,” Kalita added.
The club house, built in 1900, belonged to Panchu Gopal Mukherjee, the first Indian deputy commissioner of Assam, and was earlier known as Mukherjee Lodge.
The club authorities indicated that the half-constructed building behind the club house would also be completed for which they would seek government help.