Visakhapatnam: The Institutional Championships are back after a three-year hiatus, which is fantastic news. These championships are highly cherished, and the winning team becomes the most excellent among all institutions. Incidentally, the Airports Authority of India (AAI) will play the host to the championships, starting at the Swarna Bharati Indoor Stadium from tomorrow.
The Petroleum Sports Promotion Board (PSPB) has an impressive record, with 24 team trophies to their credit, including 18 from their men’s squad alone. However, one expects the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) and the Railways Sports Promotion Board (RSPB) to provide stiff competition.
The PSPB had the best dice roll among institutions. The challenges were few and far between to shake their hegemony. Such has been the aura of their team combinations. There may be an odd occasion when their women met their match in the final showdown, but their men always had an enviable record.
The golden jubilee edition will be no different. Harmeet Desai, G. Sathiyan, Sharath Kamal, Manav Thakkar and Sanil Shetty will ensure PSPB retains the trophy for the 19th time. Whatever little resistance they might face should come from the Railways, who finished behind them at Ajmer in 2019. The RSPB has a younger lot, but Arjun Ghosh, Anirban Ghosh, Akash Pal, Ronit Bhanja and Anukram Jain can make PSPB sweat a bit. Nothing more.
On the other hand, Manika Batra, Mouma Das, Reeth Rishya, Archana Kamath and the newest entrant, Yashaswini Ghorpade, will try to complement their male colleagues. But, in their efforts, they are sure to face tests from the RBI, especially National champion Sreeja Akula and Ayhika Mukherjee, now the stalwarts, and young Diya Chitale playing the support cast majorly, with Amrutha Pushpak and Harsha Vardhini pitching in their might.
Former national champion Sutirtha Mukherjee will have to carry the burden of RSPB on her shoulders in the company of Anusha Kutumbale, Moumita Dutta, Yashini Shivshankar and Poymantee Baishya. The Airports Authority of India, also the hosts, will bet their last penny on its young and energetic Swastik Ghosh, Radha Priya Goel, Anargaya Manjunath, Taneesha Kotecha and Oishiki Joardar to enhance their status. But AAI’s men’s squad has a shape to it with SFR Snehit, Jeet Chandra, K.J. Aakash, Soumyadeep Sarakar and Deepit Patil and they can pose headaches to the best in business. The rest of the institutional teams will fight for pride as the individuals in their ranks try to outdo themselves.
The individual title in singles that follow would keep men and women on tenterhooks, and those who missed the bus in the Senior Nationals will try to have their best shot at the crown. The prizemoney apart, the ranking points they are fighting for, will liven up the stage. With a decent prize purse in the doubles, the battle could turn intense to grab at least something.
After the formal inauguration at 10 a.m. by Dr H. Srinivas, IRPS Member and president of the AAI Sports Control Board, the team events will start at noon, according to Technical Director Mangesh Mopker. He will have the support of an experienced team of technical officials headed by referee A.S. Kler, deputy referee T.G. Upadhya and others.
Equipment support for the championships is provided by STAG, including flooring and tables, while DHS balls will be in use to help players headed for the Asian Championships and Asian Games prepare.
Group A: PSPB, LIC, CB, FCI.
Group B: RSPB, BBSCB, BSNL, DAE.
Group C: RBI, CRSB, ESIC, AFSCB.
Group D: AAI, IA&AD, MPSCB, DASCB.
Group A: RBI, CRSB, FCI.
Group B: RSPB, CB, LIC.
Group C: PSPB, BBSCB, ESIC.
Group D: AAI, IA, BSNL, DASCB.