FACT: The northwestern tip of Rajasthan is frequented by camels. When you replace these desert bovine creatures with 1200 of India’s best college sportspersons, then you have a helluva week on your hands. Idyllic and dull Rajasthan is suddenly packed with raging hormones, intimidating chorus chants and in general, an action packed atmosphere. If you thought BITS Pilani and the rest of our premier engineering folk are straight out of the cast of Big Bang Theory, then think again. These guys take their sports seriously. The BITS Open Sports Meet, as the name very clearly suggests, is an open invitation to any college sportsperson worth his/her salt to stake claim to being the best in his craft. With a multitude of sports, all of which were played within the humungous Pilani campus, BOSM can genuinely claim to be the mini-Olympics of north India, at least at the college level.
Most of the participants were housed in the decaying Ram Bhavan, which, as per the wonderfully informative BOSM Press Blog was reopened to outstation participants. The participants themselves turned up from the length and breadth of India and abroad. St Xavier’s Kolkata participated, so did Loyola Hyderabad (more on Loyola’s crowd pulling antics later on in this post). A table tennis team from Sri Lanka turned up as well, making BOSM an international fest (or just about!). Most of the teams though, were from neighbouring cities within Rajasthan or else from Delhi.
This being the 28th edition of the fest, you can rest assured that all the possible teething problems would have been sorted out even before many of us are born. Scheduling of matches, hospitality and accommodation, PR, sponsorship & marketing, food, photography, informal events, security were all working like clock work. Rarely would you see a BITSian on the administrative side looking hassled or out of his depth. These guys have been there and done it, and this comfort showed.
Over the last few months, this writer has actively travelled across the length and breadth of the country on a mission to document India’s basketball competition, which is largely ‘tournament based’. What this means is that India doesn’t yet have a league like that of the IPL, EPL or other “PL”s across different sports and nations. From rainy Kerala, the under developed Odisha countryside, metropolitan Mumbai and sunny Delhi, basketball in India never stops. Pilani marked our maiden attempt at documenting the basketball scene at our college level. Make no mistake, the Pilani fest is no substitute for an NCAA type college league. But it does provide some wonderful examples for other colleges to emulate in their own sports fests:
1) Get the best teams: Pilani saw powerhouses from Delhi participate. Many of these teams featured national level players. Notably, SRCC had the Salman Khan type built Akim Jeet Singh Sohal, who recently starred for Delhi in their junior national triumph in Cuttack, Odisha.
2) Keep your competition open: When you keep your fest open to ‘any’ and ‘every’ college in the country, you can be certain of surprises. If last year saw the unknown and unheralded National Law University, Jodhpur spring a surprise on hosts BITS Pilani, this year saw the Loyola Academy Hyderabad team take everybody by storm with their aerial acrobatics and blink-and-you-miss-it floor shows. India’s college-level answer to the Harlem Globetrotters, anyone?
3) Divide your organizations into departments and divide your work: As mentioned briefly earlier on in this post, BITS’ organization of the fest itself can be made the subject of management studies. For a college fest to be entirely student run (interfering faculties in other colleges please take note) especially at such mammoth stage is staggering to say the least. BITS Pilani managed because of their time tested approach of segmented the entire organizational work into multiple departments which functioned autonomously. Apart from the usual Hospitality & Accommodation, Sponsorship & Marketing and the fixtures/results announcing team (called ‘BITS Controlz’), Pilani also had a department for photography with its members offering snaps to visiting teams at a nominal price. This is very useful for those teams who invariably forget to carry their own cameras and when their cell phone pics are simply not high resolution enough. Apart from the DOP, BITS had teams to look after informal events ‘informalz’ and even a team to monitor possible eve teasing and sexual harassment cases- ‘firewallz’ (what’s with this love for adding ‘z’ to everything?)
4) BOSM English Press– talk about free press, they regularly took stands in honest criticism against their own student organisors (“scoreboards aren’t working”). They interviewed outstation participants, which is a great sign as outstation participants are usually treated as third rate citizens
- Live blogs- though mainly of the basketball matches, these minute by minute cheeky match updates were a godsend to those fans who wished to follow the fortunes of their teams on a real time basis from the comfort of their dorm rooms.
- Interviews: From department heads, team captains, alumni and chief guests, the PR team left no stone unturned in giving readers insights into the numerous elements that go into makes a sports fest a success. There is so much more than meets the eye. It is not just about getting teams and referees and playing a match.
5) Get chief guests who are sportspersons: if you are one of those who gets really annoyed with your college faculty (who has absolutely no sporting credential to speak of) being made the chief guest and meanders on about ‘participating is more important than winning’ (yawn!), then BITS Pilani wins our respect in this regard. They not only got prominent Indian sportspersons as chief guests, they also ensured that their guests were not just average sportspersons but pioneers in their chosen sports. Woman Discus thrower Krishna Poonia, Athen games silver medalist double trap shooter Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore (salute!) and the upsetting boxer Akhil Kumar (the precursor to the new wave of Indian boxers that includes Beijing bronze medalist Vijender Singh). What should be noted is that BITS Pilani was shrewd enough to get sportspersons who are based in and around Pilani. Rathore and Poonai are both from Rajasthan and Akhil Kumar from nearby Haryana. NOTE TO OTHER COLLEGE FEST ORGANISORS: Get sportspersons belonging to your respective states as guest speakers for your fest!
6) Invest in sports infrastructure: Here’s one area that other colleges may be handicapped. Pilani is BITS and BITS is Pilani. In other words, the entire town seems to be part of the BITS campus. 100s of acres of space, and they are also in the middle of building an entire underground campus. One of their alumni
7) Mascot: For the first time BITS introduced an official mascot, that of Baxter, the desert eagle.
8) Get creative sponsors: Got to hand it to Vodafone (no they aren’t paying me for this publicity).
9) All night food: This is college! People cant’/won’t/ don’t sleep at 11:00 pm however hard you may try. Studies have shown that people in their late teens hormones are secreted that keep them awake late into the night.
10) Zorb Fights: How do you prevent athletes in their late teens who are brimming with unspent energy from destroying public peace and property? Simple. Put them in zorbs and have them collide head-on sumo style or takeshi castle style or however you want to describe it.
Coming to what we know best. There were 21 teams in the men section and 9 teams in the women section.
|A1. Lakshmibai National Institute of Physical Education (LNIPE), Gwalior||B1. MMEC, Ambala||C1. BIET, Sikar||D1. BITS, Pilani|
|A2. Venky’s||B2. DIT, Dehradun||C2. JIET, Jodhpur||D2. IIIT Allahabad|
|A3. SRCC||B3. BIT, Jaipur||C3. Graphic Era||D3. MNIT Jaipur|
|A4. KIIT Group of Colleges||B4. BKBIET||C4. UIET Rohtak||D4. 5 Year Law|
|A5. Chitkara||B5. Jaipur National University||C5. Vyas Institute of Technology, Jodhpur||D5. Xaviers Jaipur|
|A1. LNIPE, Gwalior||B1. BITS||C1. Modi|
|A2. SRCC||B2. SRM||C2. Venky’s|
|A3. Xavier’s Calcutta||B3. JIET||C3. MNIT, Jaipur|
- LNIPE , Gwalior 56 bt BITS Pilani 41 (Boys)
- SRCC bt Venky’s (Girls)
- BITS, Pilani bt Xaviers Jaipur
- LNIPE 74 bt Loyola, Hyderabad 68
Girls (last league match)
- SRCC bt BITS Pilani
- BIET Sikar 27 bt JIET 18
- BKBIET 19 bt DIT 10
- BKBIET 33 bt Jaipur National University 16
- JIET 36 bt VIET Rohtak 24
- Venky 41 bt Chitkara 31
- BITS Pilani 48 bt UFYLC 6
- Xavier’s Jaipur 33 bt IIIT Allahabad 29
- MMEC Ambala 34 bt BIT Jaipur
- Loyola 48 bt Graphic Era 29
- SRCC 44 bt LNIPE 16
- Venky 37 bt MITS 2
- SRCC 52 bt Venky’s 40
- Graphic Era 50 bt UIET, Rohtak 32
- BITS Pilani 34 bt MNIT, Jaipur 20
- LNIPE, Gwalior 27 bt KIIT Group of Colleges 7
- IIT, Allahabad 24 bt UFYLC 14
- MMEC, Ambala 36 bt JNU 21
- Loyola, Hyderabad 33 bt JIET Jodhpur 20
- BIT Jaipur 36 bt BKBIET 23
- Loyola, Hyderabad 41 bt UIET, Rohtak 16
- Graphic Era 21 bt Vyas 20
- JNU, Jaipur 27 bt BIT Jaipur 20
- Venky’s 30 bt KIIT 14
- BIET Sikar 47 bt UIET Rohtak 39
- SRCC 42 bt Chitkara 29
- LNIPE 58 bt Chitkara 44
- JIET, Jodhpur 24 bt Vyas, Jodhpur 10
- MMEC, Ambala 32 bt DIT, Dehradun 19
- BITS, Pilani 66 bt St. Xaviers College, Jaipur 49
- SRM 26 bt JIET, Jodhpur 0
- SRCC 33 bt St. Xaviers 12
- Venky 52 bt MNIT, Jaipur 7
- BITS Pilani 21 bt SRM, Delhi 9
1) BIT, Jaipur 18 bt DIT 8
2) LNIPE 65 bt SRCC 50
3) Loyola 37 bt Vyas Institute 14
4) Chitkara 23 bt KIIT 11
5) IIIT, Allahabad 24 bt MNIT, Jaipur 23
6) Graphic Era 43 bt BIET, Sikar
7) MMEC, Ambala 39 bt BKBIET 35
8) Loyola Hyderabad 58 bt BIET, Sikar 25
9) Xaviers, Jaipur 24 bt MNIT, Jaipur 15
10) Xaviers, Jaipur 37 bt Five Year Law 19
11) LNUPE 41 bt Venky’s 31
12) DIT, Dehradun 27 bt Jaipur National University 25
13) VIET, Rohtak 8 bt Vyas Institute 2
14) Graphic Era 49 bt JIET
15) BIET, Sikar 24 bt Vyas Institute 17
16) BITS, Pilani 38 bt IIIT, Allahabad 18
1) LNIPE 33 bt Xaviers 12
2) MNIT, Jaipur 17 bt MITS 14
3) BITS, Pilani 34 bt JIET, Jodhpur 0