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From the courtroom to the cricket pitch

From the courtroom to the cricket pitch

They’ve been clashing in court. And now, it’s time for Goan lawyers to also battle it out at the 1st All Goa Advocates T20 Cricket Tournament, organised by Lawyer’s Challengers at Arlem Grounds, Margao. NT BUZZ gets you the story

Danuska Da Gama I NT BUZZ

In all certainty, we grew up playing one or the other sport; but how much time and passion is invested in it, despite busy schedules, is something we know best. But, here, lawyers, some juggling with cases, have yet managed to make time to keep their passion alive, through the 1st All Goa Advocates T20 Cricket Tournament. Eight teams have participated in this knock out tournament, the semi-finals of which will take place on November 24, 9.30 a.m. between Hurricanes and Lotlikar Lions and at 1.30 p.m. between Lawyer’s Challengers and Mapusa Champs. The finals will be held on November 25.

Specially for lawyers

Headed by Panaji based lawyer, Iftikhar Agha, this knock out tournament has some other heavy-weights too including Subodh Kantak, advocate general of Goa, Dattaprasad Lawande, Suresh Lotlikar, Surendra Dessai. A unique feature of the tournament is the team composition, though the team consists of 11 players, here, there are rules – at least three players have to be above the age of 35, and two above 45.

Vasco based lawyer, Haider Khilji, playing for Panjim Risers says that the age rule is welcome as it gives senior lawyers an opportunity to play, “Otherwise everyone wants young players; and older players are considered a weakness,” he feels.

While the planning phase began in May with bookings done for a league tournament at SAG Grounds, it had to be cancelled due to the National Games, “I didn’t want to cancel it and thus changed it to a knock out tournament. It wasn’t difficult to get six teams as they had participated in the other tournament; but getting the other two teams and making my own team was a little difficult. There were more teams that wanted to participate, but due to lack of time and availability of the ground we restricted it to eight teams,” says Agha.

Telecasted live on YouTube by Goa Livecast (www.youtube.com/GOALIVECAST), the first day of the tournament November 10 drew close to 35,000 viewers. “We want the tournament to be appreciated not just by our families and Goans, but be an example to others in the country and overseas,” he says.

Senior lawyer and owner of Lotlikar Lions, Suresh Lotlikar says owing to his long standing relationship with the Chowgules, it was fairly easier to get the Arlem Grounds. He is happy with this format as the older lawyers get a chance to play cricket. “Normally when we play cricket, youngsters steal the show, but there are many who are above 40 and are still fit and in fact can turn the game over. As an owner there is responsibility, finance being most important. If my team wins I will have a blast.”

With GCA certified umpires, scorer, and a lawyer appointed as an arbitrator having the final say in disputes, this tournament is being played with utter professionalism and seriousness. While earlier there were table tennis tournaments organised for lawyers, and two football tournaments that continue to be held solely for lawyers every year, this tournament has seen great gusto.

Agha’s brainchild

Agha has played ‘A’ division cricket and is part of the Goa Lawyers cricket team that participates in various cricket tournaments in the state and the love for cricket came naturally. “I was inspired by my father, Ashraf Agha who was also a lawyer and my older brother Irshad Agha who played a lot of cricket before joining the judiciary. This shows that one doesn’t need to give up a profession to pursue a passion,” he shares before adding that this tournament was organised so that lawyers could enjoy playing and remain fit and simultaneously take forward the legacy of the sport.

Further elaborating Agha says: “Lawyers can take up any challenge, and thus, I thought of organising a cricket tournament. In previously organised tournaments, I saw only youngsters with no participation of lawyers above the age of 35. Each team here wanted newcomers to lift the trophy and also wanted all the generations to play.” He says that there could be a rule for including women in the next edition.

It was a dream to organise a tournament for the lawyers and give them a different level of play on a good ground and telecast it live. “I wanted to change the concept of lawyers being termed bookworms,” he says. From poaching players to arranging for practice sessions, and getting kits for the teams, over 88 active lawyers in this tournament have given this their all, just like they do in their practice.

For glory of the game

For Sairaj Dhond, one of the younger players playing for Lawyer’s Challengers, cricket is a religion; his interest spiked ever since he graduated from Law College. From being a friendly extracurricular activity cricket has become professional with such tournaments where everyone – owners and players – takes it seriously, he says. “Everyone has a close eye on who is graduating and wants to poach for the best. It is good fun and also competitive. The rule of different aged players is good as there needs to be a balance,” he says.

Lotlikar an avid cricket enthusiast admires Rahul Dravid, and his favourite memory of Indian cricket was the 2001 Calcutta test match when the partnership between Dravid and VVS Laxman won them the match against Australia. He says that here in Goa, every match is played with seriousness, to win; though sometimes it gets difficult, especially when an over gets prolonged due to wides and the other team wins.

Owner, Mapusa Champs, Gajanan Korgaonkar who has been playing cricket since 2005 says this is the best tournament organised for lawyers. “The ground is fantastic to play on. Cricket tournaments for lawyers has been taking place for since 2006 and Mapusa Champs won for 10 consecutive years. This is a good opportunity for lawyers to meet lawyers from other jurisdictions.”

Talking about the enthusiasm Sairaj says, “Iftikhar is a good player and is very passionate about cricket. Similarly, advocate Subodh Kantak who is over 60 is always enthusiastic and his team has been winning the other cricket tournament for the last two years. He has a typical bowling style which seems easy but keeps getting him wickets. There is immense bonding through this tournament which otherwise would not been possible. There is so much of seriousness that everyone wants to win and practices are on in full swing. It’s beyond friendship and the team rivalry is bringing out the best in everyone.”

Owner, Hurricanes, Subodh Kantak says that his interest in cricket has increased over the years. “I have conducted league tournaments of this kind in the past. In this year’s knock-out tournament I am not playing because of a back problem. Though the tournament gives senior people a chance to play, it also reduces the competitiveness because I have to accommodate players above 35 and 40 years of age and good players feel unhappy to be kept out. But, overall it is a good initiative,” he says.

While lawyers are known fight against each other in court, Khilji says this is a good platform to come together. “Enjoyment is what defines this sort of gathering. We make time to practise early in the morning. Some players are from Vasco and some from Panaji,” says Khilji. Domnic Pereira, owner of Mapusa Dragons, says that this tournament is a very good concept of getting all lawyers together. “It is not about just participating in this tournament; the serious practice also increases our fitness level. These tournaments are good stress relievers,” he says.

While there is no money involved for prizes and having players, winning this tournament is a matter of pride and will therefore have a rolling trophy, besides other prizes, including Man of the Match for each match. “Lawyers are otherwise rich, and money cannot substitute the pride of winning. This tournament is more for integrity and fun, than anything else,” Agha concludes.

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