The Indian contingent at the recently concluded 2018 Asian Games, which was held at Jakarta and Palembang in Indonesia, enjoyed their most successful outing in terms of medals, winning a total of 69 silverware in Asia’s biggest sporting extravaganza. The surprise package was the team of Bridge – a game of cards – in which India clinched a gold medal along with two bronze. Their journey seems to be a fairytale as hardly few knew about the Bridge team and their potential, however, the journey behind the scenes is a hard pill to sorrow.
The Bridge squad at the Asian Games did not even have the basic amenity such as the official blazer during the Games.
The duo of Pranab Bardhan and Shibnath Sarkar clinched the gold in the men’s pair event, while the two bronzes were bagged in the men’s and mixed team categories. The Kolkata-based duo were highly lauded by everyone including politicians, sportspersons, pundits, and fans, but hardly knew the fact that they did not have the basic amenity of having the official blazer of India and are yet to receive any cash award from the West Bengal state government.
Addressing a press conference at the Calcutta Sports Journalists’ Club, Bridge team’s coach and non-playing captain Debashish Ray said that the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) have not even provided the official blazers to the team yet and the players are thinking to stitch the IOA logo on their old blazers as the team is set to go for a photo-op on Wednesday.
"Initially, we were told that we will not get any kits but later (after sports ministry's intervention) we got the jerseys but we have not still received the team blazers. The official reception is just around the corner so we have thought of stitching the logos on our own," said Ray.
Ray further said that the IOA did not even provide them the team uniform as the Bridge Association is still non-affiliated, however, the Sports Ministry covered the total cost. He added that IOA cleared the Bridge team’s participation just three days ahead of the Asian Games.
The West Bengal government had instantly announced a cash prize of Rs 10 lakh for heptathlon gold winner Swapna Barman but kept mum on Pranab Bardhan and Shibnath Sarkar’s feat.