Aniket Satam’s (19) parents used to frown upon him missing college lectures for his fencing lessons.
The second-year BSc student of K.V. Pendarkar College, Dombivli, began wielding the epee last year at a private academy. He loved the sport’s sharpness and pace but walked a fine line juggling his passion and academics.
But from this year, Satam can breathe easy. Mainly because he will get 10 marks added to his year-end college result for playing the sport, and also because he can now compete at inter-college and inter-university competitions.
Mumbai University added fencing and archery to its list of sporting activities this year.
The three per cent sports quota seats in colleges are in great demand. For instance, 115 students applied for the 11 sports quota seats at St Andrew’s College, Bandra, this year. Colleges hold trials for picking the most skilled students.
But unlike US universities, which aggressively vie for talent, Mumbai University views sports as a way to promote all-round development. “Our focus is academics. There are professional associations; it is their responsibility to hone talent in their respective sports,” said U.N. Kendre, university sports director.
This could explain the delay in the completion of a sports complex at the varsity’s Kalina Campus. Construction began in 2006 but the completion date has been postponed from 2008 to 2011. The Mumbai University Grounds at Marine Lines has a 400-metre athletics track and hosts inter-college hockey and cricket tournaments.
Some colleges have their own training facilities. Khalsa College has a hockey ground and St Xavier’s has a basketball court. Given the space crunch, some public grounds such as Priyadarshini Park at Napean Sea Road and Sports Association grounds at Kandivli are also used to host varsity sporting events.
Colleges compete in various sports through the year and their performance is tallied for the prestigious Guru Nanak Dev Trophy. Last year, Bandra’s Rizvi College bagged the trophy. “We give sports as much importance as academics and are very accommodating to ensure that those who represent the college or the university do not suffer academically,” said Rajesh Sonavana, Rizvi sports director.
Among the different sports, such as hockey, volleyball, throwball, badminton, chess, carom, tennis and boxing, football is the most popular. “We hold about 10 trials to select the college team. This year, more than 170 students tried for the team,” said Ram More, sports director, St Andrews. “To improve the performance of university teams at the national level, there should be greater transparency in team selection,” said Sonavana.