Strike cloud on hill soccer meet Organisers cite unavailability of St Joseph’s grounds and players

The Telegraph


The St Joseph’s School grounds where the tournament is generally held. File picture

Darjeeling, March 7: The All India Brigade of Gurkha Gold Cup, believed to be one of the popular soccer tournaments in north Bengal, has been postponed, the vice-president of the organising committee said here today citing the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha’s strike call as one of the reasons.

The tourney was scheduled to be held from March 8 to 16 but yesterday the organisers, who include members of the GTA Sabha and Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Sports Association, convened an emergency meeting where it was decided that the event would not be held this month. The tourney is likely to be held in October.

“The tournament has been postponed till a suitable date is worked out,” Dawa Lama, the vice-president of the organising committee, said today.

He added that the event was postponed because of three reasons, two of which were non-political and the third was the strike called by the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha.

The hill party has called a strike in all government offices from March 9 to 27. Two 48-hours general strikes have been called on March 14-15 and 21-22.

“Since a strike has been called, we felt that it would be difficult to provide security to the players,” said Lama who is the treasurer of the Morcha’s central committee.

Ten teams, among them, Nepal, Bangladesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Odisha, Assam, BSF Jalandhar and Army XI were to take part in the tourney this year.

Lama added that the other reasons for the postponement were non-availability of a football field and the engagement of teams in the IFA tournament.

“The St. Joseph’s School wrote to us a few days ago saying they could not spare the ground as cricket matches were being played there. We hope the authorities would give us the field when the tournament is held, most probably in October,” said Lama.

The tournament is generally held at the school ground.

“The IFA could not release teams from Bengal as they are playing other tournaments, another reason that forced us to postpone the event,” he said.

Md. Shahid Jabbar, the coach of Odisha Police XI, said: “We are the Odisha league champions and we were looking forward to participating in the Gold Cup as it is a big tournament and our players would have got bigger exposure playing against better teams. But the organisers informed us some time back that the tournament was being postponed. They have promised to invite us when the tournament is held probably in September-October. We are looking forward to going to Darjeeling.”

Jabbar, who was also the chief coach of the Indian women’s team that lifted the SAF trophy held in Sri Lanka in September 2012, added: “Our office had granted us permission (to play in Darjeeling). We would have played in Darjeeling for the first time.”

The All India Brigade of Gurkha Gold Cup started in 1975 with the Brigade of Gurkhas (British Army) based in Hongkong donating the trophy to the Darjeeling District Sports Association.

But the tournament was stopped after the 1985 edition when a violent Gorkhaland agitation started in the following year. The tourney was revived in 2010.

Mohun Bagan and East Bengal have lifted the trophy four times each, and on two occasions (1976 and1982), the teams were the joint winners.

Mohammedan Sporting Club, Nepal XI and BSF Jalandhar have also lifted the cup.

Last year, the trophy and a prize money of Rs 2 lakh went to Tata Football Academy, Jamshedpur, after they defeated Bhaichung Bhutia’s United Sikkim.


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