On Wednesday evening, 5th October 2005, it was rendezvous of West Bengal CM Buddhadeb Bhattyacharia with Sourav Ganguly at Salt Lake cricket ground. CM first received an innocuous delivery from Team India captain Sourav Ganguly and then, enthusiastically, bowled one at him too. That double act marked the inauguration of the Videocon School of Cricket – Sourav Ganguly’s cricket academy.
Venugopal N. Dhoot, chairman, Videocon Group, termed this academy as the pride of Bengal. “When the chief minister requested us to support this project, we thought it would be an ideal gift to the people of the state,” Dhoot said.
The academy has come up at the satellite Salt Lake City Township on a five-acre plot provided by the Kolkata Metropolitan Development Authority (KMDA).
Among past and present cricketers present were Pranab Roy, Moloy Banerjee, Arun Lal, Sambaran Banerjee, I.B. Roy, Sujan Mukherjee, Devang Gandhi, Satinder Singh, Joydeep Mukherjee, Sanjay Das and, of course, Sourav’s elder brother Snehasish. Also present was state urban development minister Asok Bhattacharya.
The CM thanked Sourav for agreeing to take responsibility in grooming young talents. “We want cricket to become more popular. We want more players from the state to make it to the highest level,” Bhattacharjee said.
“But one fine morning, a youngster can’t become a cricketer. For that he needs good training and practice facilities. I know that because I wanted to become a cricketer but could not,” the CM revealed.
The school started operations on October 15. Sourav is the chairman of 22 Yards, the company running the show in Salt Lake where land has been given free by the government on lease. Chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee opened the academy with the dream of churning out “more Souravs”.
Earlier in the beginning of 2005 , then Indian captain Sourav Ganguly signed an MoU with Videocon International Limited, the country's leading consumer electronics and home appliances company, for establishing a world class cricket academy in Kolkata at a cost of Rs one crore.
As per the MoU, signed in the presence of West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadev Bhattacharjee, the infrastructure for the academy would be provided by Videocon International Limited, while day-to-day management would be looked after by a team of professionals headed by the talented left hander.
No prizes for guessing the reason that had brought Videocon as the sponsor. The consumer electronics company had joined the initiative to reap for its brand benefits from an association with a project promoted by the then captain of the Indian team.
The academy identifies and picks up young talent in the age group of eight years and onwards and grooms them to make a mark on the world stage.
Sourav’s elder brother Snehasish Ganguly and former Bengal cricketer Sanjay Das are available to guide trainees.
The academy has 700 trainees and 20 coaches to start with. Ten of the coaches, all former Bengal players, have already been recruited.
“Whenever I get time, I will be here to help the youngsters along with the other coaches,” Sourav promised. The trainees will be divided into three age groups ? 8-12 years, 13-16 and 17-19? With provision for special training to those who are found to be exceptionally talented.
The academy has a state-of-the-art gymnasium and several practice pitches.
According to Snehasish, two-three coaches from the academy are sent to Australia for training by December. “We will also send one or two promising cricketers abroad every year,” he said.