Sorry about not writing for so long. Have been busy watching Mahabharat among other things, and after having finally completed all 94 episodes of the epic, I am ready to write about the greatest story ever told. Period.
But for now, here is another story. The story of what is going to go down into the IIMC tradition as one of the most healthy, sporty ones ever started. And I, and an entire batch of New Hostel residents, are proud to be a part of bringing about this tradition. Welcome to the Flash Gordon Trophy.
The Inter-Wing FooterVolley Tournament in New Hostel witnessed all the eight wings taking part. A lot more than the trophy was at stake here, it was the pride which each of these wings have. The eight wings were divided into 2 groups of four teams each. Dhobi Ghat (the E100's) and Stud Farm (the E300's) started out as the favorites. My very own Sandazz (W 300s) and Ba-stud Farm, which consisted only of PGP1's (E400's) were expected to be the other semifinalists, while WTF(West Third Floor - What the Fuck!!! W 400s) were considered the dark horses. Nothing much was expected out of Animal Farm (W 100s), Sinners Paradise (E 200s), and Azaad Pankh (W200s). But well, like all tournaments, this one had surprises galore!
But first a bit about FooterVolley, for those of you who don't know. It, as the name suggests is a mixture of football and volleyball. It has almost the same rules as Tsepak, except that three bounces are allowed on the floor before the ball crosses the net. Only three touches are allowed, and any number of players from one to six can play from one side. However, for the tournament, the number was fixed from a minimum of four to maximum of five per team. During the league tournament, the matches were supposed to be one set long with first to 21 with a gap of at least two points winning, points only on serve. In case of the scores being tied 20-20, the advantage-duece rule applied. For the semis, we had three set matches, each set being first to 15, while the final was a best of five setter, and what a final it was!!!
The first match, between WTF and Animal Farm, was expected to be a one sided affair, with WTF having a pretty good team, and Animal Farm fielding a totally new team, PGP2's who had never played before, except practicing for three hours before their big debut. Churiyal, Dhamija, Jail, Dayal and Shireesh played the match of their lives to defeat the Vijay Raghavan (who had been tipped by many, including myself, to be the Man of the Tournament) led WTF. The WTF also had players like Shekhar, Tarun, and Bhutani, and a new finding, Dabas. Well, what a start to the tournament it was. Played under flashlights, cheering Squads on both sides, a great match to watch, and with me being the main referee of the tournament, a great match to officiate in. Animal Farm shocked everyone, including themselves, to gain a 22-20 victory. Everyone stood shocked. The tournament had begun.
The next match was the one which everyone expected to be a thriller. Sandazz, led by Dang and yours truly, were expected to give a tough fight to the Dhobighat team which had three great players, Kedar, Rishabh and Thakur, and a PGP1, Abhinav. Our team had Rachit, Fatter, Tanmay, and three PGP1's to choose from. But we produced an abysmal opening match, losing 21-8.
The other matches in our group, however passed by as expected, with Dhobighat and Sandazz beating both Sinners and Azaad, and that too pretty easily. Azaad beat Sinners with a team of PGP1s, to finish third in the group, while Dhobighat and Sandazz entered the Semis.
The other group, however, saw some good matches, and it was a pleasure officiating them. Ba-Stud farm, after an abysmal performance against Stud Farm, lost easily to WTF as well, in what was another shocker. Stud Farm then brought down the high flying Animal Farm with an easy 21-8 victory. In the match which was to prove critical, Animal led Ba-Stud 17-10, (and a victory would have surely taken them through to the semis) when someone reported they had done enough to reach the semis, and their performance fell. They ultimately lost 21-18, and then waited restlessly for Stud Farm-WTF match, where only a big margin of Stud Farm victory could take them to the semis. However, WTF, were able to lose by 21-13, making them the second team to qualify from the group on basis of their higher points per game average, even though Ba-Stud, Animal and WTF had one win each. It was sad to see Animal, who had played with so much enthusiasm, bow out.
The next day, the semis were upon us. Dang was unable for selection into the squad as he had already gone home. So noone expected anything much from Sandazz, who were facing their eternal rivals, Stud Farm, who had comprehensively beaten all teams in their group. However, Stud Farm looked tense, and taking advantage of some good team play, Sandazz, who had nothing to lose, went on to shock Stud Farm in the first set 15-8. We were leading 3-0 in the second set when a mistake by me gave Stud Farm a point, and the disunity that had been kept under wraps, began surfacing. It was all over then, I knew. We lost the second set 15-7, and the third 15-3 to bow out of the tournament. But what was worse, was that we could have won it easily, had our team spirit been good.
In the other semis, WTF lost to Dhobighat easily, 15-6,15-6, to set up a pulsating final. Two unbeaten teams in what was to prove to be a final worthy of the Flash Gordon Trophy.
The day of the final was delayed for two days because of rain. Before the final, there was a third fourth position match, in which we again started off brightly, but then, owing to infighting, we lost pretty badly to end up a disappointing fourth. More than the defeat it was the manner of the defeat which hurt. We lost in straight sets to WTF, 15-8, 15-3 (after leading 3-8 in the first set). Vijay Raghavan played like he had been expected to play, but hadn't the previous two days, and his serves were too much to handle.
The final match between Dhobighat and Stud Farm was not only between two wings, it was also between two different ideologies. Stud Farm were supported by Bastards, while most of the other wings were with Dhobighat, mainly due to their alienation with Stud.Stud fielded a four member team, like Dhobi, with Mithun, Katyar manning the front line and Fattu and Alu forming the back. For Dhobi, Kedi (who had been exemplary in the tournament so far) and Thakur closed at the net, while Abhinav was not allowed to do much work by Rishabh at the rear. Vijay Raghavan and I were the match referees. People had come from WH and OH to witness this match. As soon as the match started, I knew it was going to be a tough job managing the match. All line calls were contested, and with people from both sides cursing you, it was easy to lose your cool. I had a fight with a lot of people that day, but I stuck by my decisions, and I think it was a brave thing to do. The first two sets were shared. First to Stud 15-13, second to Dhobi 15-12.
At the end of the second set, some rain threatened, but it went away, and we started the third set. By now, the dominance of DhobiGhat was prominent. Kedi was playing brilliantly, and helped by some erratic show by Mithun, Dhobi won the third 15-4. It seemed a matter of moments before Dhobi laid its hands on the Flash Gordon Trophy. And then the rain struck.
It started as a drizzle, but soon began raining cats and dogs. The match was passed over to the next day, continuing at 0-0 in the fourth. The next day saw a great match, Stud were on the brink of elimination at 10-12 in the fourth, but gathered all their resources to win it 15-12. In the fifth, with almost all of NH cheering them on, and with Stud making mistakes, NH took a 9-1 lead. But then Katyar played the match of his life. He turned the entire match around, and when, at 14-13 to Stud Farm, I gave the header by Kedi as out, an entire stadium erupted! Stud Farm had won the Flash Gordon Trophy: 15-13, 12-15, 15-4, 15-12, 15-13.
The man of the match was Katyar, while the man of the tournament was Kedi, whose non-perfornamce after the day-long rain break was probably the reason for Dhobi's defeat. Having judged that match probably taught me more about Management, than all of fourth term courses. But more of that later. For now, enjoy beer, or whisky or whatever, and enjoy life. Thats what it is for.