Nostalgia hits hardest when you are closest to home. Things were no different for the alumni of Ballygunge Government High School (BGHS) who signed off the month-long Debojyoti Sinha Roy Memorial Sports Carnival with back-to-back football matches at the school ground on January 8.
Prior to the showpiece finale, the players paid tribute to Debojyoti Sinha, their former general secretary, by wearing “LOVE U DJ” T-shirts. The carnival, which began in December, hosted the Amit Ghosh Memorial Chess and Table Tennis Tournament, the Ajoy Ghosh Memorial Carrom Tournament, the Dipankar Jana Memorial Cricket Match, the RN Mukherjee Memorial Cricket Match, the Tathagata Chakraborty Memorial Football Match and the Probal Ranjan Sengupta Memorial Football Match.
The action from the match between BGHS alumni association and their opponents comprising former football professionalsAmit Pramanik
In the final exhibition game of the carnival, a team comprising former India, I-League and Indian Super League (ISL) players emerged 4-0 winners against the BGHS Alumni Association. Ashim Biswas led the way with a brace, while Mehtab Hossain and Rahim Nabi scored one each. “They’re my friends and I’ve played with them before. I wanted them to come down and play at my alma mater and help inspire a younger generation to take up the game. It was a pleasure to play against such veterans,” said Souvik Biswas, a key member of the organising team as well as the alumni association defence at left-back.
Rumpai Chakraborty was visibly emotional while watching the football match dedicated to Tathagata Chakraborty, her late husbandAmit Pramanik
Earlier on January 8, in the first football contest of the day, the Tathagata Chakraborty Memorial Football Match, the alumni association narrowly fell short, losing 2-3 to the visiting team of Jadavpur University Ex Footballers. The star of the match was the visitors’ goalkeeper, Pratik Ghosh, who played valiantly before leaving the game due to an injury. Rumpai Chakraborty, wife of the late Tathagata Chakraborty, was near the touchline, watching intently. Visibly emotional during and after the match, she said: “I felt like a part of Tathagata was here today in the form of each player’s passion. It’s an honour that he’s remembered so fondly by his peers and that his juniors still refer to him as Dada.”
BGHS alumni association players at the RN Mukherjee Memorial Cricket Match, where Judhajit Mukherjee played a starring roleJudhajit Mukherjee
In the RN Mukherjee Memorial Cricket Match held in December, during the second week of the carnival, Judhajit Mukherjee, the present general secretary of the alumni association, played a key role with the bat in his side’s victory, a fitting contribution in a game dedicated to his father. BGHSAA posted 112 in their stipulated 10 overs against a Jadavpur University Ex Cricketers side that featured the likes of Diptesh Pakrashi and Debanik Sengupta, both former Bengal players. The JU alumni fell short by 14 runs as they managed 98 against a tight BGHS alumni bowling attack, which was helmed by Koustav Chakraborty, Mriganka Boral and Avisek Ghosh. Reflecting on the work of the BGHS alumni association, Mukherjee, a former Bengal player and National Cricket Academy (NCA) certified coach, said: “Back in our time, government schools were much better off than they are today. Post-Covid, we’ve seen a further deterioration in standards. As alumni, we try to do as much as we can for our school. Personally, I help coach children who want to pursue cricket for free so that they can harness their love for the game.”
Players and match officials ahead of the football match between BGHS alumni association and Murshidabad Nawab Bahadur Institution on December 18Judhajit Mukherjee
Another memorable moment in the carnival came on December 18, when the BGHS alumni faced off against the former students of Murshidabad Nawab Bahadur Institution. Hours before Lionel Messi lifted the World Cup for Argentina in Qatar, several first-division footballers from 1970s Kolkata took to the field once more, including the likes of Ranen Kumar Gouha and Santosh Chattopadhyay. Regionally renowned referees, Chittodas Majumdar and Hiren Das, were involved in officiating the match. The game was made even more intense as Ranen Kumar Guha and his son, Abhishek Guha (both former professional footballers), played for opposite sides. In the end, father triumphed over son as the team from Murshidabad prevailed 3-1.