The Inter IIT Aquatics, held at Roorkee this year, was a successful one for the KGP contingent. The team won top honours in the Aquatics events and finished runners-up to IIT Kanpur in the water polo event.
The water polo team that had failed to qualify for the knock-out rounds last year had only two new faces in the team, but their new coach breathed discipline into them. With a spirited lift in performance our team went on to reach the finals after 8 years, where we lost to IIT Kanpur by a solitary goal in a hard-fought encounter. The margins of victory speak for themselves: Delhi was drubbed 6-0, Madras 5-3, and Guwahati swept aside 13-2. After edging Bombay 6-5(extra time) in the semifinals, we faced the veterans of IIT Kanpur who won 3-2 in a close finish. Captain Abhilash Sharma believes that it was Kanpur’s comparatively aggressive tactics that won them the day.
The Aquatics events also saw KGP putting up an improved show, winning Gold this year compared to last year’s Bronze. Chirag Fialoke finished first in all five of his races, with Darshan Varier bagging two golds. The team won a Gold and a Silver medal in the relay events, putting themselves in the top spot. What made the difference this year was a strategic distribution of our teams players in the various events so as to take advantage of our opponents’ weaknesses.
The new aquatics coach, Mr. Ritesh Guchhait, son of the former coach Mr. T. K. Guchhait, enforced strict discipline and punctuality in the team while encouraging off-pool bonding between the team members to raise camaraderie in the team. There were more practice sessions this year, where individual and group tactics were perfected. Practice matches were organized against a professional state-level water polo team from Midnapore to hone the team’s capability to function well against strong and organized opposition. The solid bench strength of the team added to its endurance, making sure that substitutions could be made without worrying about adversely affecting the team’s structure.
The team felt that the presence of a vibrant coach affected their performance a lot. However, the fact that procurement of new equipment and reimbursement are often delayed by bureaucratic hassles in the Gymkhana remains a concern among inter-IIT contingents. That other IITs have better facilities in place does nothing to improve the team’s morale. IIT Bombay has four dedicated coaches in its inter IIT contingent to KGP’s one. Other IITs are flown in or travel in AC 3-Tier, while the KGP contingent is only given sleeper class reimbursement.
Four of the most experienced players in this year’s contingent are in their final year, and their absence will surely be felt next time round. However, The Scholars’ Avenue hopes that the team will continue undeterred and emerge victorious in the upcoming edition of the event in home waters.