Sports is a neglected subject in India lost in transit somewhere in the crowd of the so called educated engineers, doctors and lawyers. We love watching sports on television, but when it comes to supporting our kids to become a sports person, we generally take a back seat. Barring aside cricket, the state of sports in India is yet to be developed to reach its zenith and the irony is that despite the level of talent that we breed, the lack of appropriate support debars the talented lot to come to the main stream. I am not an active sports fanatic but my visit to Racket Club yesterday made a strong impact in my mind about a Sports that is not known widely in India- Squash.
On a chilly winter evening, perhaps the coldest of the season so far, wherein instead of sleeping and lazing around, Team Daily Mirage (Aroon, Arpita, Devraj) decided to pay a visit to one of the oldest Squash clubs in the world to meet India’s renowned Level 2 Squash Coach, Dalip Tripathy, Dalip Sir as he is fondly known by his students.
A bumpy ride to Maidan, amidst the holiday cheer of locals, is a small by road that takes us to a Colonial Structure retaining its old world charm, The Calcutta Racket Club established in 1793 originally known as the Fives Court or Gamekhana is one of the oldest clubs the city can boast of. The Calcutta Racket Club is the only club in India catering exclusively to the game of squash. Interestingly the Club derives its name not from the Racket used to play Squash but from the species of a bird called the “Racket bird” which used to inhabit the trees around the Club when it was founded. The Calcutta Racket Club, adjacent to Birla Planetarium on Jawaharlal Nehru Road, has seven squash courts, of which two are glass backed international standard tournament courts with the largest spectator gallery in India.
As we enter the building, the sight of a jovial and friendly man greeted us. Mr. Dalip Tripathy the present 2nd Level coach chatting with his students, encouraging and cracking jokes with the little ones was a welcome sight. Dalip ji , a very friendly and down to earth person took us to a tour of this beautiful and cozy heritage. The old Squash courts, the new glass courts, the gymnasium, bar and the spectator’s gallery added to the glamour of the site. This place has organized many local, national and international Squash tournaments and trained the best of the best Squash players in India. Off late they have started a National Junior Development Program in November 2002 to popularize the game amongst school children and develop their competitive skills.
A fit and healthy tall good looking man , Mr Dalip Tripathy is a well-spoken , extremely friendly and soft spoken individual. His love for the game of Squash is so vivid in his eyes that the very mention of Squash makes him energised. Having spend his life in various corners of India, Dalip ji moved to Kolkata in early 2000 . Alike every other Indian student , Dalip ji also started his professional career by enrolling for a Mechanical Engineering course but he left his studies mid-way to play Squash and started his never ending journey. His love for the game of Squash has taken him to every nook and corner of the world. He shared his encounters with Jahangir Khan from Pakistan , the Mecca of Squash. Dalip ji has trained and inspired generations of Squash players through his dedication and hard work. He dreams to take Squash to a new level in India and make its presence felt throughout the world. We bid good bye to the great man after gulping some amazingly made fresh “Nimbu Paani” at the club, with the hope of meeting him again and getting to know more about the game of Squash.
Team Daily Mirage