Be it Eden Gardens or the eternal rivalry between East Bengal and Mohun Bagan— Kolkatans never miss a chance to indulge themselves in sporting extravaganza of any type. As the city gears up for the under-17 Football World Cup, it would be a great idea for the city’s sports fanatics to pay a visit to the brand new ‘Fanattic Sports Museum’, boasting a rare collection of mementoes from various sports with a special focus on cricket and football.
Set up by the Ambuja Neotia Group at the Eco Space Business Park in New Town, the single storied museum building looks distinctly different from the other century-old museums in the city and displays the personal collection of renowned journalist Boria Majumdar. Right at the entrance an autographed photograph of Argentine football legend Diego Maradona draws attention. The overwhelming zeal surrounding arguably the greatest footballer of all time with his fair share of controversies, make ‘the fallen angel’ an all time favourite among the football lovers. A few steps away shimmers a yellow jersey that had once belonged to the ‘King of Football’ – Pele. A ball autographed by him during his second visit to the city in 2015 after a gap of 38 years is also on display.
The museum also boasts of autographed jerseys of Dutch football sensation Johan Cruyff, the UEFA Champions League winning jersey of former England and Chelsea captain John Terry, Portugal star Helder Postiga who also plays for the city based soccer club Atletico de Kolkata and the left boot of four times FIFA Ballon d’or winner Lionel Messi. Adding to the local flavour, the museum has on its display the Indian Super League trophy won by Atletico de Kolkata in 2016 and a jersey autographed by the entire team.
The cricket wall of fame welcomes the visitor with all sorts of interesting photographs, anecdotes and statistics of Indian cricket as well as rest of the cricketing world. It includes interesting stories about RanjitSinhji, after whom, Ranji Trophy, the domestic cricket tournament in India was named and books on legendary English cricketer W. G. Grace, whose technical innovations and enormous influence left a lasting legacy. The cricket enthusiasts would revisit the memories of the famous ‘bodyline series’ between England and Australia. Some iconic moments of 1932-33 Ashes series are displayed in the museum.
A special wall has been dedicated to the greatest batsman of all time Sir Donald Bradman that showcases some wonderful batting statistics by the Australian and a letter in his own handwriting. A collection of cricketing artifacts cannot be complete without the mention of ‘the little master’. The museum rightfully dedicates a wall to Sachin Tendulkar, the highest run getter in both formats – test and one day international. The wall displays his jerseys, bats that he used and the gloves he wore while scoring the century of centuries. It also has an interesting collection of 100 Coca-Cola cans released by the soft drink company on occasion of Tendulkar’s 100 centuries. Each of the can bears the statistics of the innings as well as an image of the legend during that time. Two other corners are dedicated to ex-Indian captain Saurav Ganguly also known as the Prince of Kolkata and India’s spinning legend Anil Kumble. While the ‘Ganguly Wall’ showcases his autographed T-shirts, and bats he scored centuries with, the Wall for Kumble narrates his historic 10 wicket haul versus Pakistan at Feroz Shah Kotla in 1999.
Autographed jerseys and playing gears of several other Indian as well as international cricketers including former Australia captain Michel Clarke, West Indies legend Brian Lara and Chris Gayle and Ex Indian captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni grace the museum.
If the visitor is a tennis lover, he would be pleased to find the caps of Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer the two arch rivals of modern day tennis, displayed side by side. The signature of current world no.1 Novak Djokovic and the rackets of Indian tennis legend Mahesh Bhupati and Sania Mirza are also preserved with pride. The museum with varied sports collection exhibits the racket of Indian badminton genius and famous coach Pullela Gopichand and the jersey of India’s current no.1 female shuttler P.V. Sindhu.
Gears used by India’s solo Olympic medallist Abhinav Bindra who triumphed in the category of men’s 10 meter air rifle in 2008 Beijing Olympics also found its place in the museum along with T-shirt of wrestler Sakshi Malik and amateur turned professional boxer Vijender Singh who made the nation proud in the arena of Olympics.
In a bid to pay tribute to the relatively lesser known sports and sportsmen, the museum displays the signed T-shirts of paralympian Deepa Malik who won the silver medal at the 2016 Summer Paralympics in the shot put and Javelin thrower Devendra Jhajharia, the first Indian to have won two gold medals in the Paralympics in 2004 and 2016.
On the right hand side, there is a small gallery that is often used for various events launch, press conference and interactions between the students and sports personalities. The museum recently organised an event, roping in Jhulan Goswami, a member of Indian women’s cricket team after her impressive performance in the ICC Women’s World Cup in 2017.
Fanattic Sports Museum
Ecospace, Action Area II, NewTown
Days Open: Everyday from 11 am – 7 pm
Ticket: Rs 10 per person
Photography: Permission required