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Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan’s role in developing Footy in India

Posted on Tuesday, October 10, 2017 by ARFAI,


Mr. G.V. Subramanian (standing middle) unveiling the Indian team jersey for 2017

Dr. G.V Subramanian, Director of Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan Kolkata Kendra, unveiled the new jersey of the Indian team of Australian Football at the Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan campus in Salt Lake, where the Indian team was training as a part of their inaugural national camp last week.

The relation between the sport of Australian Rules Football in India and Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan goes back to the early days of the sport in 2008 when the school’s branch in Kolkata hosted the first official exhibition match of the sport in India (April 2008), with AFL coach Yuta Kobayashi in attendance from Australia.

The big news came in a few months after that as the match which was facilitated by the school Games Captain and Sports Coordinator Sudip Chakraborty and Ayush Gupta respectively, both got selected in the very first Indian team of the sport that represented India at the AFL International Cup 2008 in Melbourne, Australia (August 2008).

As the two fresh alumnus of Bhavan’s Kolkata embarked upon their journey to represent India, President of Bhavan’s Australia Mr. Gambhir Watts stepped in to support the Indian team. Mr. Watts who was proud of the achievement of his students, sponsored the accommodation of the Indian team while they were in Australia.


The relation grew stronger in 2011, when the HOD Physical Education of Bhavan’s Kolkata, Mr. Ashim Dawn, who had helped organize the exhibition game in 2008 at his school, stepped on board as an assistant coach of the Indian Footy team participating at the AFL International Cup 2011. Bhavan’s Australia stepped in to support the Indian team with their accommodation in Australia once again.

Mr. Watts with the Indian team in 2011 at a dinner hosted by Bhavan's Australia

Mr. Watts with the Indian team in 2011 at a dinner hosted by Bhavan’s Australia

First half of the International Cup in 2011 was held in Sydney where Bhavan’s Australia and Mr. Watts is based. Hence this was a great opportunity for both the alumni Sudip and Ayush, along with Mr. Dawn to visit the Bhavan’s Australia office in Sydney and this also meant Mr. Watts took great personal care of the team and hosted them for multiple dinners while they were in Sydney.


In 2014, the relation grew stronger with Mr. G. V. Subramanium readily accepting the proposal from Australian Rules Football Association of India (ARFAI) to oraganise the first West Bengal state level tournament at the school ground. The tournament was a big success with the Australia Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) India correspondent covering the tournament for a story on AFL in India.

The Indian team then headed to Australia in August 2014 and yet again, Mr. Gambhir Watts stepped in to sponsor the accommodation of the team.

The relationship between AFL India and Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan went a step further this year with AFL India running a pilot porgramme to introduce Footy in the state of Chattisgarh, hosted and supported by Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan Raipur and their sports loving Principal Mr. Amitava Ghosh. AFL India coaches took the students of the school through the basics of Australian Football who were surely hooked on to the sport at the end of the three day programme.

A student of Bhavan's Raipur playing Footy

A student of Bhavan’s Raipur playing Footy

2014 ended on a high with AFL’s International Coordinator from Melbourne Peter Romaniw visiting Kolkata for a conducting coaches and umpires training programme and once again Bhavan’s Kolkata made its football ground and conference room available for hosting the same.

Post 2014

The following years saw Mr. G. V. Subramanian extending full support for the work that was being done by AFL India led by the school’s alumni Sudip Chakraborty. The Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan school ground has essentially become AFL India’s home ground where the state/national players have training sessions/practice matches whenever required.

Quite notably, the school in Kolkata hosted the biggest legend of the sport – Mr. Kevin Sheedy in January 2017, who toured India with Essendon Football Club officials from Melbourne, Australia, to conduct a super-coaching workshop with the best 200 players from across India, who then participated at the annual national championship of the sport in Howrah, West Bengal. The school also made its newly built auditorium available for the umpiring workshop and interactive sessions with Kevin Sheedy and other Australian experts.

And very recently, while the Indian team of Australian Football was going through their national camp at the Bhavan’s Kolkata in July 2017, Mr. G.V. Subramanian unveiled the Indian team jersey to be worn by the team at the historic first ever international match of the sport in India between India and Australia, organized in rural West Bengal’s West Medinipore District. The jersey of course had the Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan logo printed at the back as the team’s main sponsor.

The match, which was organized in Ghatal, West Midnapore, also hosted the Australian High Commissioner to India Ms. Harinder Sidhu, who was made aware of the support provided by Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan over the years.