The celebrations of Sailen Manna’s birthday hosted a tournament between five local clubs of the city consisting of eight players
Kolkata, September 1, 2021: It is rightly said that football is more than a game for Bengalis and Bengal has proven its love for the game since the pre-independence era. Players like PK Banerjee, Chuni Goswami, Gostha Pal from Bengal have led the Indian football team from the front.
Sailendra Nath Manna popularly known as Sailen Manna has led the Indian football team in the 1950 Olympic edition. Today is his 97th birthday, and Kalighat Sports Lover Association has organized a commemoration event to celebrate his contribution to Indian football. Rabindra Sarobar Stadium in South Kolkata was decked up by the association with flowers and Sailen Manna’s posters.
The late footballer Sailen Manna was awarded Padma Shri by the Government of India in 1971. England Football Association in 1953 had mentioned him in the list of ‘World’s 10 Best Skippers’.
Promoting local football through Sailen Manna’s birthday celebration
In the past few years, domestic football has taken a new turn with Indian Super League. So did the football clubs of Bengal. CM Mamata Banerjee has taken a sleuth of measures to develop the infrastructure and support the small local clubs. Financially supporting these clubs was an important step to promote local talent from interior parts of the state.
Babun Banerjee, brother of Mamata Banerjee, began the Sailen Manna trophy to scout local talent even before the onset of the under-17 world cup tournament.
Late footballer Sailen Manna and Babun Banerjee had visited different districts and organized tournaments to identify local talents. Banerjee is also the chief patron of All India Trinamool Congress Sports Cell and the secretary of Kalighat Sports Lover Association. He also runs the Sailen Manna Football Academy.
CM Mamata Didi took a step further to introduce football to politics through her ‘Khela Hobe’ slogan. Similar echoes were heard at the event attended by prominent politicians from the state, evoking the audience’s sportsman spirit.
To promote Bengal football, Banerjee has visited Bankura and donated sports equipment to the tribal community recently. “I went to Bankura and have donated essentials equipment to the tribal players. I have also organized a health camp for the players,” Banerjee said. Currently, he is planning to organize several other local tournaments across the state to scout talent.
Sailen Manna’s birth anniversary celebration
The event was attended by Ajit Banerjee, president of Indian Football Association West Bengal; Chandrima Bhattacharya, Minister of State (Independent charge) Urban Development & Municipal Affairs and Swapan aka Babun Banerjee, secretary of Kalighat Sports Lover Association and Chief Patron of All India Trinamool Congress Sport cell.
“It is a pleasure to attend the event every year and celebrate Manna Da’s birthday. Like Didi, Babun Banerjee has done a lot uplift local and regional football clubs,” Chandrima Bhattacharya said.
The celebrations of Manna Da’s (fondly called by Bengalis) birthday will host a tournament between local clubs of the city. Five teams of eight players each will play for the Sailen Manna trophy today. “Earlier, people used to throng the stadium gates for watching the game. But due to Covid-19, we have not allowed many spectators,” organizer Babun Banerjee said. The match began with lighting the sky paper lantern by MoS Chandrima Bhattacharya and Banerjee.
Talking about his best memories with Padma Shri Manna Da, he said, “I have fond memories with Manna Da while visiting the districts for scouting talents. I have traveled from Bankura to Bardaman with him.”