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Tuesday, Dec 10, 2019

Carrom has Sri Lanka in the pocket, Bangladesh fast catching on

Sri Lankan carrom team manager says the sport is played everywhere in the island nation.

pune Updated: Dec 05, 2019 16:34 IST
Jigar Hindocha
Jigar Hindocha
Hindustan Times, Pune
Shumsune Nahar (Bangladesh) at the 8th Carrom ICF Cup at PYC Hindu Gymkhana on Wednesday.
Shumsune Nahar (Bangladesh) at the 8th Carrom ICF Cup at PYC Hindu Gymkhana on Wednesday.(RAHUL RAUT/HT)

PUNE Go to any nook or corner of Sri Lanka – the carrom board is present in every house. The hyperbole apart, it is with no hint of irony that Susantha Fernando explains, “Carrom is played everywhere and any time. Even if a death happens in the family, you visit the home and on the third day you will see family members playing carrom,

Fernando is the manager of the Sri Lankan carrom team in Pune for the 8th Carrom ICF Cup, at the PYC Hindu Gymkhana.

Fernando, himself, is the 2012 world champion, and today, at the age of 41, is the senior most player in the team.

“Purely, it is a fun game, but we have made it serious business by conducting tournaments at the school level, followed by college and then a national ranking is decided,” added Fernando.

Carrom tournaments in Sri Lanka start from the under-six age category.

“I started playing in school, before getting a place in the national team. We have serious competition in school,” recalls 22-year-old Saheed Hilmy.

Although Carrom Federation of Sri Lanka is struggling for funds, it has got good support from the Sri Lankan Army and Navy.

“It is hard for carrom professionals to survive, but once they have a job they can continue playing the this sport. The Army and nNavy are giving players jobs,” said Fernando.

Bangladesh, on point

In Bangladesh, carrom is never looked on as a serious sport, but it is more of a leisure sport.

“Carrom is not played as seriously as it is played in India. Here you have sponsors, but it is not same in Bangladesh,” explains 25-year-old Sabima Akter, who is in Pune with her friend Rahema Akter Chadi, to take part in the ICF Cup.

The duo started playing carrom professionally in 2012.

“The fun sport suddenly becomes an serious affair and you focus more on how to strike,” added Sabima.