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Tuesday, Dec 10, 2019

8th ICF Cup in Pune: UK champ striking for carrom to be queen of board sports in Europe

Elisa and her husband gave advertisements on television in 1995 to popularise the sport in Europe and the UK

pune Updated: Dec 04, 2019 15:26 IST
JIgar Hindocha
JIgar Hindocha
54-year-old Elisa Zucchiatti  has won five matches at the 8th Carrom ICF Cup India at PYC Hindu Gymkhana.
54-year-old Elisa Zucchiatti has won five matches at the 8th Carrom ICF Cup India at PYC Hindu Gymkhana.(Ravi Joshi/HT Photo)
         

PUNE: A chance opportunity to see people play carrom on a beach while holidaying in Maldives in 1995, saw the UK-born Elisa Zucchiatti and her Italian husband Paolo Martinelli fall in love with the sport.

The couple decided to purchase a board to play what they thought to be a fun game.

Curious to know more about the sport, Elisa contacted friends who are part of the British Olympic Committee.

“I found that there is a UK Carrom Federation and United Kingdom Carrom Club in the island nation. They invited me to take part in the world cup (Sri Lanka, 1995),” said 54-year-old Elisa, who won five matches at the 8th Carrom ICF Cup India at PYC Hindu Gymkhana on Tuesday.

Taking part in the world cup gave Elisa exposure to the sport, and the couple was also introduced to its Indian and Sri Lankan players. The world cup was open for all.

“In 1995, we visited India and purchased the board from Meerut. Since then, the sport has been an integral part of our recreational activities,” said Elisa, who is an art historian by profession.

Elisa and her husband gave advertisements on television in 1995 to popularise the sport.

“Many showed interest in the sport and wanted to learn it. We always treated it as a fun game. We liked to compete, but never practiced it regularly,” Elisa said.

The TV advertisement connected the couple with the Sri Lankan community in Italy first, and later, other people joined.

Zucchiatti also travelled a lot, participating in craft fairs, games festivals, summer sports events and organised tournaments for all categories.

“Soon, carrom was played in many clubs and people used to enjoy it during the evenings,” she said.

European Carrom Confederation

The couple formed the European Carrom Confederation (ECC) in 1996 to popularise the sport. Eliza, a founder member, is currently the president of the sports body. “I thank Krishna Sharma, the president of India Carrom Federation (ICF) in 1991, for setting up ECC. The sport became popular in other countries after European Carrom Confederation was formed,” she said, adding that Bangaru B Babu from Chennai also helped them promote the sport.

Eliza said the European countries where carrom is played are Switzerland, United Kingdom, Italy, France, Poland, Czech Republic, Serbia and Slovenia.

Euro Cup

Euro Cup was started in 1996 and is organised once in a year. All nine countries take part in the event. “Only European countries take part in the annual event and our Sri Lankan friends who stay in Italy supported the decision. They also want local players to take part in the sport,” Elisa said.