Sports is best read, the message from Ekamra Sports Literature Festival

Lalita Babar - TheGolfingHub
Rio Olympian Lalita Babar (extreme left) at the Ekamra Sports Literature Festival, the world’s largest sports literary festival, which brought together some of the biggest names from Indian and international sport. The literary extravaganza unfolded at the majestic Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar last weekend.

The fifth season of the Ekamra Sports Literature Festival was a resounding success with a mix of serious conversations around the future of Indian football and multi-million-dollar leagues together with interviews of bestselling international authors which ended with India’s only Sports Book Awards as Sohini Chattopadhyay’s ‘The Day I Became a Runner’ won the Ekamra ‘Sports Book of the Year’. The 5th season was held at Bhubaneswar’s iconic Kalinga Stadium Complex.

Amrit Mathur’s PITCHSIDE – My Life in Indian Cricket won the ‘Autobiography of the Year’; the Biography of the year was claimed by Sudipta Biswas’ ‘Tulsidas Balaram – The Boy. The Hero. The Tormented Footballer’; The Cricket Book of the Year went to R Sridhar and R Kaushik’s – ‘Coaching Beyond, My Days with the Indian Cricket Team’.

The best sports book publisher of the year went to Harper Collins. The Special Jury Award went to Grit – The Vishwas Story by Vishwas KS, VR Ferose and Sriram Jagannathan. Grit is an illustrated story, an ode to a man, a para swimmer who surpasses unimaginable hardships and comes out at the other end with integrity, optimism, and gratitude.

Lalita Babar- TheGolfingHub
2016 Rio Olympian and 3000m finalist Lalita Babar (extreme left) got emotional while narrating her journey from a village in Maharashtra to sport’s highest echelons.

The highlight was a heartfelt and stirring session with 3000m steeplechase Rio Olympics finalist Lalita Babar – one the eight Indian female athletes featured in Sohini Chattopadhyay’s book “The Day I Became a Runner.” Lalita said her life as an athlete was brought alive in a meaningful and sensitive way in the book.

This season was about words. Words that transport us to the heart of the action, capturing the sweat, tears, and triumphs that unfold on playing fields and stadiums around the world.

Dav Whatmore
Former Australian player and coach Dav Whatmore regaled the audience with his whacky humour and incisive inputs into what it takes to become a champion side.

The opening session with former World Cup winning coach Dav Whatmore was an audience delight with his forthright answers laced with Aussie humour. He gamely took on questions on winning formulas, best ODI captain and his own favourite cricketers.

The session on Potential of Multi-Million-dollar Leagues had a formidable panel from around the country – Saroj Panigrahi (Coo, Games 24×7), Shaji Prabhakaran (Secy Gen, AIFF), Abhijit Bhattacharya (Founder, Brahmaputra Volleyball League, Rishikesh Joshi, Founder of Sports For All (SFA).

Saroj Panigrahi felt fantasy sports are a great way for increasing popularity of sports. Abhijit Bhattacharya inspired the audience with his journey of building a unique platform for promoting rural talent through community participation without corporate sponsors.

Acclaimed filmmaker R Balki spoke about his latest film Ghoomer starring Abhishek Bachchan. He also revealed that he would love to make a sports biopic on Mansoor Ali Khan Pataudi as the late Indian cricket captain had not just talent and charisma but also a certain edge that made the millennials needed to know about.

Italian author Piero Trellini revisited The Unforgettable Brazil Vs Italy 1982 match, while British reporter Daniel Friebe spoke at length on why he wrote a book on a doping pariah Jan Ullrich.

Tulsidas Balaram - TheGolfingHub
Indian football’s forgotten hero Tulsidas Balaram was brought to alive in the session to discuss young journalist Sudipta Biswas’s (extreme right) heart-touching account of the East Bengal doyen.

Football fans were privileged to hear two former Indian captains speak about their experiences and about a forgotten legend Tulsidas Balaram featured in Sudipta Biswas’s book – Tulsidas Balaram – The Boy. The Hero. The Tormented Footballer.

Another session around sports broadcaster Gaurav Gala’s book ‘Áwakening the Blue Tigers’ grappled with thorny and complex issues around football in the modern context of India qualifying for the World Cup.

The Ekamra Sports Literature Festival is the world’s largest ever sports literary festival bringing together some of the biggest names from Indian and international sport.

The festival ended on a high with the Ekamra Sports Book Awards! From captivating biographies to heart-wrenching memoirs, insightful analyses to works of fiction that ignite our imaginations, the nominees represent the very best of sports writing.

We believe Sports is Best Read.

Photo credit: Ekamra Sports Literature Festival