Indian-Americans strive to popularize their beloved board game Carrom in the U.S.

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Sandeep Dusa of New Jersey, left, won the final round of the NorthEast Carrom Tournament held Nov. 23, 2019. The Runner-up was Ajay Arora of Pennsylvania, right. (Photo: courtesy organizers)
2. Arshad Shaik, organizer of the NorthEast Carrom tournament of Nov. 23, 2019, held in Jersey City, N.J. (Photo courtesy Arshad Shaik)

Twenty six carrom players, some of them of national and international stature, faced off against each other in the second edition of the NorthEast Carrom Tournament held in Jersey City Nov. 23, 2019.

Ultimately, after six rounds of Round Robin, from which 8 emerging winners faced off in Quarterfinals, then four in the Semi-Finals and finally the two top players emerged in the Finals in nail-biting games, watched by some forty or so lovers of the game so popular in India and East Asia.

In fact, organizer Arshad Shaik, told Desi Talk, players came from as far as Michigan and also surrounding states of Delaware, Pennsylvania, and New York apart from New Jersey.

The winner was Sandeep Dusa of New Jersey, and the Runner-up was Ajay Arora of Pennsylvania.

Also present at the event was Atul Bhave, president of United States Carrom Association, to which NorthEast Carrom is affiliated. The USCA sponsored and supported the NorthEast tournament with equipment and in other ways.

Bhave encouraged the NorthEast Carrom association to conduct more tournaments.

“We are in line with the motto of USCA to encourage new talent and to take Carrom to every corner of United States,” he said.

Other sponsors of the Nov. 23 tournament were ITV Gold, a part of Parikh Worldwide Media, as well as Biryani Darbar Restaurant which provided the venue and the food catered through the day for the players. Individual sponsors included Hasmukh Patel, Mohammad Masood, and Karim S. Rayani.

The 26 competitors, who included one woman player, Tejaswi Duduka from India, went toe-to-toe in the second match of 2019. The first was held in April.

Usually, two tournaments are conducted each year, generally a couple of months before the two national tournaments, Shaik said. Add to that other tournaments like the International Carrom Federation Cup.

“Ten of the 26 players in our local competition have played in the World Cup Carrom Tournament held in Korea in 2018,” Shaik told Desi Talk.

“Our competition was very strong,” he noted. “From the Round Robins to the Finals, all are held in one day, so it is very intense,” Shaik said. That is because the matches are singles and not doubles, he explained. If they were doubles, the competition could run to two days.

The USCA national organization for carrom enthusiasts is a non-profit (uscarrom.org).

“USCA has set out on an ambitious mission to introduce, integrate and nurture the game of carrom into every home in the United States of America,” is the organization’s ambitious agenda. “To begin with, we are partnering with social and cultural organizations to re-introduce carrom to people who are already familiar with the game. In addition, we provide avenues to amateur and professional carrom players alike to improve and enhance their skills and thereby the standard of the game itself,” the organization adds on its website.

The next International Carrom Federation World Cup is scheduled to be held in Pune this December. The four players chosen to represent the U.S. in Pune include Oscar Philips as team manager, Shibu Jose as captain, Ajay Arora, the runner-up in the Nov. 23 event in New Jersey, Sam Mallisetti. and Ranjit Sapre.

 

 

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