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Bengal Tigers (Sr) & Jharkhand Crows (Jr) win EN Zonals 2023

Posted on Thursday, February 2, 2023 by ARFAI,

Bengal Tigers – winner of the East-North Zonal Championship 2023 (senior division)

ARFAI in partnership with Jharkhand Footy Association (JFA) as the local organising committee, organised the joint East-North Zonal Championship 2023 on 29 January at the Morabadi Mandir Ground in Ranchi, Jharkhand. The junior division title was won by the Jharkhand Crows defeating West Bengal (1-3-9 to 0-3-3) in a closely contested match, where both the teams did not give a chance to the opponent to score much in the game. In the senior division, the West Bengal Tigers won the title against the Jharkhand Crows with a good margin (6-4-28 to 0-5–5).

Returning to competitive football post Covid after a gap of nearly 3 years, ARFAI organised this inter-state championship comprising 6 states from the Eastern and Northern part of the country, a step away from the annual National Championship organised in the past and the slowly starting zonal championships in India. The 6 states comprising West Bengal Tigers, Odisha Swans, Rajasthan Eagles, Bihar Bulldogs, host state Jharkhand Crows and the debutant Uttar Pradesh Hawks, competed in junior and senior divisions with 178 players participating.

Jharkhand Crows – Winners of the junior division

In the senior division, the ‘Player of the Tournament’ award went to Amaresh Mondal from the Tigers who scored 3 goals in the Grand Final to seal the victory for his state team. (POT award not given) The ‘Best Goal’ was taken by Indian Captain Mahesh Tirkey playing for his home state Jharkhand. Mahesh who was also the leader of the local organising committee, balanced his organising responsibilities extremely well with his on field-performance, coupled with a knee injury as well. The ‘Best Defender’ was awarded to Shiba Marndi from the Odisha Swans team and the ‘Best Mark’ by Rajesh Rana from the Rajasthan Eagles. In the junior division the ‘Player of the Tournament’ was Niket Khalko from the Jaharkhand team. (Award not given).  The ‘Best Goal’ was scored by Sushil Kumar, the Vice Captain on the Eagles team, the ‘Best Mark’ was taken by Shubhash Bilung from the Crows while the ‘Best Defender’ trophy was awarded to Alok Kumar from the Bihar Bulldogs. The ‘Sayner’s Fair Play’ awards, supported by long-time supporters of ARFAI, the Sayner family led by Shane Sayner from Adelaide, Australia were won by the debutant Uttar Pradesh Hawks in senior division and Bihar Bulldogs in junior division.

ARFAI was honoured to host the Hon. Australian Consul General from Kolkata, Ms. Rowan Ainsworth who travelled over to Ranchi specially for the tournament and graced the event by her presence. A welcome dance by the indigenous community from the state was preformed to welcome her and she actively joined the group to shake a leg.  Among many other guests who attended the event to support the development of Footy in the state, ARFAI was pleased to host Mr. Madhukant Pathak, President of Jharkhand Athletic Association and Mr. Rajinder Prasad, President of Jharkhand Netball Association.

Girls from Ranchi and Khunti district of Jharkhand in action

Before the senior division semi-finals, Hon. Rowan Ainsworth thoroughly enjoyed the girls’ exhibition match that was organised between Ranchi and Khunti districts, two district teams of Jharkhand. The Grand Finals were both highly enjoyable as both the junior and senior teams tried to put in their best performances to win the Cup for their states. ARFAI executive committee member Mr. Priyank Choksi said “After spending more than 2 years in Covid without any action on the ground, I am glad to see the skill improvement of the players in this tournament. As per the conversations with the participants, they are keen to take Aussie Rules football to the next level in India, which I am delighted to be a part of”.