A group of youth in Banaskantha district of North Gujarat launched Dalit Premier League, a cricket tournament exclusively for members of Scheduled Caste communities, with an aim to bring youngsters from the community together and provide them a platform to showcase their cricketing skills.
The tennis ball tournament was launched in Palanpur on March 6 and is likely to be over by the first week of April.
“A number of cricket tournaments are being organised in different parts of the state by various communities — Rajput, Thakor, Chaudhary etc. Those are restricted to people of that particular community. So, we thought of organising a cricket tournament which is only for the people of Scheduled Castes… Three of my friends and I got together and organised this Dalit Premier League, exclusively for Dalits,” said Manohar Dharaiya, one of the four organisers.
Dharaiya, who runs a gas agency in Palanpur, added, “The idea was to create a bond between the youths of the community. Our effort is different, but I cannot claim if it is the first in Gujarat…”
Three others who have joined hands with Dharaiya include Satish Ranavashiya (28), Jeet Parmar (29) and Ashok Parmar (32).
Ranavashiya, who works with Banas Dairy in packing department, said, “After we finalised the plan and made it public, we got a very good response. There is a limit of 32 teams for the tournament and we have already got 29 teams registered. Three other teams are expected to join soon.”
“Most of the teams are from different parts of Banaskantha district. But there is a team from Patan as well and a team from Ahmedabad is also in touch with us to get itself registered.”
The registration fee for the tournament is Rs 2,100. The winner will get a cash prize of Rs 11,000 and a trophy, while the runner up will get Rs 4,100. A cricket ground in the outskirts of Palanpur has been taken on a daily rent of Rs 2,000.
“Our sole purpose is to bring youths of the community together and not profit. So we will spend all the money that we got through registration fees on the tournament,” Dharaiya said.
The tournament was inaugurated by some noted personalities from the Dalit community in Banaskantha such as veteran human rights activist Dalpat Bhatiya and member of Banaskantha district panchayat Jasumatiben Parmar.
Bhatiya said, “I appreciate and actively support the initiative. It provides Dalit youths a stage to showcase their cricketing skills… At the same time, they get to know each other.”
Sunil Dohat, a 27-year-old police constable in Deesa, who led a team in the tournament, said, “I enjoyed playing in the tournament… My team lost by a very thin margin but spirits were high since we got to know a number of youths from the community.”