The start of the Goa Corporate league is one time of the year where all clubs of Goa Cricket Association (GCA) meet. It is an evening where the new meet the old; the young observe the seasoned; wives meet and bring the family into public domain; and time to swirl on some good scotch and savour tasty food.
Each evening had its own signature, over the last three years. The entertainment has weaned from dance, to music, to fashion, to comedy. Through the years, there has been something thrown in to keep everyone happy.
The fourth edition of GCL took entertainment to another level. It was fun filled with nostalgia, where old memories were interwoven with new. For the first time a thread of memories was used to tie the old with the new and the GCA did this by honouring the past presidents of the association.
The year 1985 will be best remembered in the history of GCA because it was in that year that Goa was allowed to play its first Ranji Trophy match and the team Goa faced was Kerala. Thirty three years down the line and some memories are still intact.
One remembers traveling by bus to Vasco and then taking the walk to the MPT ground to watch the first match played on a mat. Goa was not expected to win then. The excitement was more off the field , it was about feeling accepted ; feeling part of Ranji folklore ,more than anything else and from then on started Goa’s cricket journey in India.
The excitement shifted to Fatorda ground four years later when GCA hosted the first One Day International (ODI) and cricket has never been the same thereafter.
Ramesh Chowgule, Ramakant Khalap, Prashant Joshi, Dattaraj Salgaocar, Dayanand Narvekar , Vinod Phadke and Chetan Desai have been the six men elected to the presidency of GCA since it was recognised by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) and the association has always been moving higher and higher – despite blemishes thrown now and again.
Where there is good, there has to be a lot worse. Otherwise, the good never looks rosy. This is one picture of GCA.
As the GCL evening began on Saturday, the silhouettes of Ramakant Khalap and Dayanand Narvekar stood through the lights as members strolled in and took their seats before the start of the function. Ramakant Khalap spewed memories of how he and Ramesh Chowgule fought for Goa’s inclusion into the Ranji Trophy and how they handed over the reign when the mission was accomplished. “Once we finished our mission of getting Goa Ranji Trophy we decided to hand over the reins to others as we felt our job was over,” claimed Khalap.
Dayanand Narvekar observed that he was returning back to the ground he had built, after a gap of six years. “I have good memories of my days before. I built this and the Sanguem ground. They tried to implicate me with a scam that was never there. It has been eighteen years since I have been implicated and there is no resolution in sight. If this is not vindictiveness, what is, “asked Narvekar, preferring not to go back to the past.
Prashant Joshi was the third man to be elected president and took those present through a history of the Association that is perhaps not credibly recorded. How the GCA functioned; where they worked from; till what time they worked; and how they navigated through the processes of BCCI.
“The GCA had no office then. We worked from Panjim Gymkhana. We used political pressure to get matches assigned. There was no money then but the will to take cricket to another level was in plenty,” opined Prashant who ,in his younger days, was known as the Chetak man of Goa because , then – to buy a Chetak scooter , one had to go through Joshi.
Vinod Phadke took over from Dayanand Narvekar. He was a quaint figure, always studying, reading minds and attitudes. If not cricket, he enjoyed life on the coasts. For Balu (as Vinod is commonly known) life is about living life king size.
And, the man doing all the leg work thirty years ago was a young tall lanky lad called Chetan Desai who moved in a Maruti 800. Chetan was a workaholic, travelling from Gymkhana to Arlem to MCC ground and his showroom in Ponda. As a young journalist, access to Presidents was difficult but access to Chetan was easy. In those days, I remember him being, secretary, vice president and some other posts but what I remember him most was for his honesty. He was a forthright guy and even is now.
I was an intrusive journalist then as I am now and getting to the truth is what drives me. I remember one evening when Chetan called me and said: “Don’t try to get to deep into what is happening in GCA because what has to happen will happen and you will be the loser because you will not be able to change anything.”
It took me time to digest what he was saying and one day I took a complaint of some players to him: that they were not given time to play but were used as ball boys. A few days later, I saw a change. One of the boys who had complained was bowling and slowly others could be seen playing. He had kept his word and therein began a relationship based on trust.
Like many, yours truly migrated and lost touch with sports in Goa and cricket in particular until 2015. It was the year GCA was to have its elections and Chetan was elected as president of GCA. He waited for thirty years to be elected unopposed.
Thereafter, cricket has been on a different terrain in India. Dr Brian Weiss wrote in his book, ‘Many Lives, Many Masters’: “Patience and timing ….everything comes when it must come….Everything will be clear to you in time.” This is the other picture of GCA.
The former presidents who spoke on Saturday spoke of the need to have a player from Goa in the India team. Chetan did not speak much. One of the few things he said was: Goa has women in the India team. Her name is Shikha Pandey.
Many times, few words can tell a story.