Balls to Justice, the annual inter-batch football tournament, started in the last week of March with high anticipation among the footballing community. Tournament is by now, all but over with only the final remaining to be played. The teams which have made it to finals are the 5th Year A-team and the 3rd Year A-Team.
This year’s tournament has been vastly different from the ones in the past in the number of teams, standard of football played, standard of refereeing and the conduct of the organising committee. None of the above-mentioned changes, however, have been positive.
In this year’s edition, batches from 3rd year onwards have been allowed to field 2 teams, A-team and B-team. In the beginning, only 5th Year was allowed a B-team with the reason being that this is their last chance to take part in the same and a couple of good players will miss out on deserved playing time. The 3rd years and 4th years forwarded the argument of equal treatment and asked for B-teams for their batches as well. The organising committee rightly complied and allowed them to field two batches. However, the attitude displayed by these two towards the tournament was full of disrespect and apathy with most of the 3rd year and 4th year B-teams a patchwork of people from their batch who could be accumulated on the pitch for the match. The result was some enthusiasts, without a clue whatsoever, slaughtered by the better players on the field. The same activity with religious overtones is generally termed Jihad. At the same time, they also made a good case for why Associate Nations should not be a part of the Cricket World Cup.
More appalling than the attitude of the aforementioned B-teams was the conduct of the organising committee which deserves a write-up on its own. However, to shed some light here, on the less controversial matter, the semi-finals were played three weeks ago and the date for the final has not been decided yet. The final, now, is in the danger of meeting the same fate as that of the communist revolution which was always coming but never arrived. Even if it happens now, it will be close to a one-off match between two teams rather than the final of a much-awaited tournament. Still, it is to be applauded that the tournament has realistic chances of reaching completion after failed attempts at football league, twice in previous two semesters, while the Balls to Justice tournament organised by Balvinder and Somil Kumar ended on the day it began.
After flouting the artistic license by digressing from the assigned task, I should return and congratulate the finalists and the team members are-
5th Year A-team
Shivangi Tewari, Sanjeev Kumar, Areen De, Raghav Shukul, Arshu John, Utkarsh Joshi, Somil Kumar, Keerthana M., Balvinder Sangwan
3rd Year A-team
Mona Nooreyezdan, Ankit Sinha, Danish Malik, Aakarsh, Archana Negi, Abhinav Lilothia, Rajveer Singh, Nishkarsh Jakhar, Wangdi Bhutia.
The 5th Year team were touted as one of the favourites before the tournament began while the 3rd year team were behind the 5th Year A-team, 4th Year A-team and 2nd Year team on the imaginary betting chart. The 5th years and 3rd years reached the finals, while the 2nd year and the 4th year were knocked out in the group stages, and all they could accomplish was to ask each other, “Et tu, Brute?”.
The 3rd years, with judicious use of their players and decline in quality of the other teams, have deservedly made it to the finals after defeating the defending champions 2nd years 1-0, through Mona’s brilliant finish after Aakarsh’s fine work on the flank. Their other main competitor in the league stages was the 5th Year B-team, with whom they drew 0-0 after brilliant defensive work by the 5th years. The fourth team in their group was the 4th year B-team which was comprehensively beaten 2-0. In the semi-finals, they were up against 1st years, and in what was supposed to be a close contest, they came-out comfortable winners by the scoreline of 4-0 with Abhinav Lilothia scoring a hat-trick, and that too against the goalkeeping legend Aaditya Arora (Fun-fact: His family owns the company which manufactures the Amul-waala Banta).
The team’s brain, Ankit and its heart, Aakarsh have combined effectively with Mona, Abhinav and Rajveer for making the team as a whole greater than the sum of its parts. They have not been let down, amid high expectations, by Danish and ably supported by Nishkarsh and Archana when called upon. For the finals, the player to watch out for is Aakarsh and if the 5th years can keep him quiet, then job is half-done.
The second finalists, 5th years had a comfortable route to the finals with an aggregate score of 22-0. They started their campaign against the 3rd Year B-team, which they won spectacularly, with the final score 8-0. In their second match they were up against the 1st year, which was without their three main players including the Kaali Prasad, and won 5-0 without facing any trouble. Their third match, with the top spot in the group almost in the bag, they faced 4th year A team. The match, predicted to be a close contest, was far from it, with 5th years winning 2-0, and their keeper Areen De, whose well renowned change of pace has been replaced by laboured change of direction, barely made two saves.
In the semi-finals, they faced 5th year B-team, and even though there were some nervy moments till they scored, a Raghav Shukul shot deflected by Akshay Shreedhar, the final scoreline was a comfortable 5-0, with even Balvinder scoring a goal.
Their best player, also the best player of the tournament, has been Sanjeev Kumar, whose individual goal tally has crossed into double digits and has received brilliant support from Raghav Shukul and Utkarsh Joshi. In defence, Arshu and Shivangi have been resolute while Balvinder, Somil K, and Keerthana have played their part. Areen, who used to play striker in his heydays, has carried out his goalkeeping duties professionally and not given his team a headache. It is however, disheartening to note that Utkarsh Joshi will not be playing a part in the final due to a hairline fracture suffered while playing basketball.
The 5th years lost the final in the last edition and were knocked out in the semi-final in the year before, while this is the first time 3rd years have reached the final. One team is in with definitely its last chance, and other team with probably its best chance. Let’s see which one wins.