Lagaan Redux: How underdogs turned vanquishers at UPES
The recently-concluded Challengers Cup cricket tournament at UPES, was a study in survival strategies and inclusivity. The players from the winning team defied several odds and rose above their limitations; the organisation rallied behind them to ensure they had an equal chance at winning
Karan Kumar has been working as a security guard in UPES for the last 15 years. In his zeal to participate in the first-ever cricket match of his life, Karan performed his duties at night so that he could take time out in the morning to play the tournament.
Daata Ram, who works in the university’s cafeteria, got injured during one of the matches. Undeterred, he came out all guns blazing to win the match for his team and ‘Player of the Match’ title for himself.
Gym trainer Kuldeep Singh had promised his team coach that he would lift the Challengers Cup trophy. Juggling between his work commitments and long practice sessions on the field, Kuldeep not only fulfilled all his professional obligations, but also made good on his promise.
Rohit Bahuguna, a technician at UPES, trained rigorously for over a month-and-a-half with a leather ball just so that he could put up a good show during the tournament. “I had never played cricket with a leather ball before. Initially, I found the going tough; some balls would swing away while some would automatically swing in. My coach helped me to adjust to the swing of the unfamiliar leather ball during the training sessions,” he reminisces, basking in the glory of an unexpected win.
The tale of victory of Team Baahubali is the stuff legends are made of. A motley group of plumbers, guards, waiters and housekeepers, with little or nil experience of playing a competitive sport, went on to beat seasoned players of Team Mad Robots. Defying several odds, the team displayed exemplary planning, teamwork, collaboration, ambition, determination and persistence to emerge triumphant in the just-concluded Challengers Cup held at UPES.
Cheered by their colleagues and mentored by none other than the Chairman, Hydrocarbon Education & Research Society (HERS), Mr. Sharad Mehra, the Baahubali team members found their mojo and registered an emphatic win over their opponents. Needless to say, it was an impassioned and memorable moment for everyone in the UPES family.
Jaya Suri, Senior Director HR, UPES, who came up with the idea of Challengers Cup, says, “Inclusivity is one of our core values, and it is time we lived up to our ethos and principles. While I witnessed Shaheed Memorial Cricket Tournament (the previous cricket tournament held at UPES), I saw the supporting staff and a spark in their eyes to be on the ground. Witnessing the excitement level of these cricket aficionados, we thought of giving them an opportunity to be the best version of themselves.”
According to Dr. Sunil Rai, Vice-Chancellor of UPES, the players took time to master their game as they had never played on the pitch before. Young, passionate and physically fit, the team members needed motivation, mentorship, and guidance on techniques and strategies from a trained professional. In the end, team effort, strenuous training sessions, passion and perseverance ensured that Team Baahubali made their mark on the field and won.
A premier institution of learning, UPES abides by its core values – Passion, Respect, Trust, Innovation, and Inclusivity. Diversity, valuing equity, and dignity are deeply entrenched in UPES culture and reinforced by everyone in the organisation. The leadership at UPES believes in providing a level-playing field and equal opportunities to everyone in the community, and dismantling barriers of class and hierarchy that impede its march towards diversity and inclusion. UPES recognises the fact that differences make us stronger and there is a lot we can learn from each other.