Parallel Park at Shivaji Park: Football.
Last weekend, in Mint Lounge. Supriya Nair wrote about football in Mumbai’s historic Shivaji Park, the crucible of the city’s cricket. Here are some images from the story.
"A wide patch of bare mud along the north-west corner of the park holds its own on the periphery of the nets. A bunch of school friends has turned up in knee socks and a variety of European club football jerseys, a Ronaldo in Real Madrid colours trying hard not to body-check a smaller boy in a Barcelona shirt (improbably printed “10: Messy”). Next to them, behind a shrine of the cross and the Baden-Powell statue outside the Bharat Scouts and Guides pavilion, a cluster of under-12s is training with the Kenkre Football Academy, lining up for a chance to dodge a child-sized hot pink ball around a line of training cones. A boy in a Chelsea jersey kicks a nearing ball upwind, into a neighbouring cricket game. The cricketers ignore it for a beat or two, until it finally bounces up the knee of a bored-looking child in white, who kicks it back without a glance.
The vacations have begun, and all through the hot months and the monsoon, Shivaji Park’s cricketers will have their numbers challenged by footballers playing along the north, east and western edges of the park. A decade earlier, casual players might have numbered in double digits in the holiday months. Now, the Kenkre Football Academy trains 500 children in its U-16 programmes. A smaller institution, the Adarsh Football Club run by Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) workers, has 70 players, and three teams in the Mumbai District Football Association (MDFA) league."