The volleyball club established by Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose 90 years ago has suffered extensive damage in the havoc wreaked by cyclone Amphan.

The Bijoyee Sangha club was established in 1930 by Bose at the historic Shraddhananda Park after he became the general secretary of the Indian National Congress. As Bose became the key figure in India’s quest for freedom, the club hosted many important political personalities and meetings apart from promoting sports.

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“As kids we grew up listening about how the club became central to the freedom movement after Netaji established it with the aim to attract the local youth to sports,” says Prasenjit Dutta, a former senior national player who currently coaches at Bijoyee Sangha.

“As Netaji’s stature grew in the national freedom movement the club hosted leaders like Mahatma Gandhi and many others whenever they came for a meetings at the Shraddhananda Park.”

Old trees brought down

“The club is surrounded by some very old trees and three huge trees, which were more than 50 years old, were brought down by the cyclone. The trees fell on the courts uprooting posts and electrical connections. It also caused enough damage to the club building. We may have lost some valuable documents and memorabilia that were preserved in the club,” says Dutta.

Ashutosh Roy Chowdhury, who did the pioneering work in getting women to play volleyball in the mid 60s, is still an active member at the age of 93.

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“He ignored his frail health conditions and came down to the club personally to supervise the damages caused by the cyclone,” said Dutta, reflecting on the concern and attachment of the club members.

“We have appealed to the civic authorities and also to the Chief Minister and the Sports Minister to help us rebuild the historic club. We hope our prayers will be answered and the club will regain its pristine glory,” Dutta said.