May, 2016

Ashoka Premier League : Students celebrate the sport of Football

Sreeradh Radhakrishnan, a first year undergraduate student writes about the culture of playing football at the campus and how this led to the success of first Football Premier LeagueAPL

There really is something about football that makes you want to sit down and enjoy it for a good 90 minutes. Visit the common rooms of the Ashoka men’s and women residence on a Saturday or Sunday night and you will know why. Swarms of students huddle around the television to watch the beautiful game, be it the El Clasico or Leicester playing on a cold rainy night at Stoke. The beauty of the game goes beyond the feet of the players and captures the imagination of many at Ashoka.

During a normal lunch time conversation I had with KC Sachin a few months ago, we realized that Ashokans love competing, whether it is in sports, quizzes or any other cultural event. We thought of a way to bring people out of their rooms and celebrate sport. Initially, we did not have a concrete idea. A couple of months later, Sachin laid out a clear plan on how we are going to organize such an event. So he caught hold of a few undergraduate students such as Sourya Reddy, Nikhilesh Prakash, Urvin Soneta, Jayanti Jha, Chirag Chinappa, Zoheb Bedi and Kanishk Srinivasan to plan out this little seed of an idea. It was to be called the Ashoka Premier League, a football extravaganza that was to last for just one night. We decided that entry would be open to all students, staff and faculty of Ashoka to create a real sense of togetherness. We also took inspiration from the India Premeir league to create a system where teams could be bought for a nominal fee and players would be bought from an auction. We knew that football extends beyond just the pitch so we also decided to host a football quiz and a FIFA tournament, where teams could send representatives to earn points even before kick-off.

Finances were a key element of the APL because we wanted to provide an incentive to the winning teams and its players. To a large extent, the tournament was self-funded because of the high number of team and player registrations. We also received generous contributions from our founder Dr. Pramath Raj Sinha and from a few well-wishers as well. We also managed to tie up with The Hunger Cycle Café who promised to provide snacks and refreshments all throughout the night.

We set the date for the auction as March 20th. We wanted to make it a glamorous event and urged all players, owners and audience to turn up in their finest suits. The owners had been quite creative in picking their team names and it was obvious that teams were ready to splash the cash on the best players at Ashoka. Our auctioneer for the day was Ajay Sabharwal, whose excellent presentation skills turned the auction into a fine spectacle. We could see that the excitement for the league was building up and APL was now on everyone’s tongues. The quiz and FIFA tournaments were held in the following weeks and added a real buzz to the air even before the ball started rolling.

April 9. The date we were all eagerly looking forward to, was finally here. Our beloved warden Cpt. R.K.Yadav inaugurated the night’s proceedings by symbolically switching on the floodlights to mark the start of the tournament. We knew that crowds would be high, but didn’t expect such a large number of people to stay till about 4am at night. Wins, losses, shootouts, last-minute screamers, oh we saw it all. After a grueling round of fixtures, the Sonepat Studs faced off against Ascharya-chakit in the finals, which the Studs won 2-1.

When the Sonepat Studs lifted the winner’s trophy, we knew that this was not just their win, but a win for the whole of Ashoka. From the first to the last touch of the ball, we knew that we had united this college through football .An unprecedented amount of people were a part of this great tournament, a massive achievement for a small college like Ashoka. Sir Alex Ferguson might’ve said “Football, bloody hell”, but through the Ashoka Premier League, we seem to have found a heavenly combination between football and the spirit of competition and we are sure that this little project of ours will last for years to come.

 

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