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1923 soccer news spurs sports journalism centenary in Assam

File image for representation.

File image for representation. | Photo Credit: Ritu Raj Konwar

GUWAHATI

A 1923 story on a three-day soccer event in eastern Assam’s Sivasagar has become the reason for celebrating the centenary of sports journalism in the State.

Asamiya, a weekly magazine published by Chandra Kumar Agarwalla, a native of Rajasthan, had carried a descriptive story on a series of football matches between the Sibsagar (earlier spelling) Town Club and Sibsagar High School in the issue of July 1, 1923. The two teams had shared the honours at the end of the event.

Mr. Agarwalla, who is related to the iconic Assamese poet-writer-filmmaker-musician Jyotiprasad Agarwalla, first published Asamiya from Dibrugarh in 1918 and then from Guwahati in 1923.

“It took more than seven decades for sports journalism to create space in news weeklies in Assam. And stepping into the 100th year of the publication of the first piece of sports news, which set the trend, calls for celebration,” Assam Sports Journalists’ Association (ASJA) president, Subodh Malla Baruah, told The Hindu.

The soccer news was published 78 years after the Baptist Missionary Press in Sivasagar printed Orunodoi, the first Assamese magazine, in 1846.

The football story had an impact on the Asamiya’s business and circulation. A Kolkata-based company that manufactured footballs placed the first advertisement in the magazine on May 20, 1923.

And sports writers of that era — a rarity — began receiving a “bonus” in the form of bylines. The first was for Beliram Das, whose report on a football match at Palasbari west of Guwahati, was published on July 29, 1923.

“The inaugural programme of the centenary will be held in Guwahati on July 2. But the main programme involving a series of activities will start from Sivasagar, where it all began,” ASJA secretary Imtiaz Ahmed said.

Apart from undertaking welfare schemes for sports journalists, the association has planned sports-related lectures, sports film festivals, a sports photography exhibition, and competitions and interactions with sports personalities during the centenary ending July 1, 2023.

The ASJA will also publish a book on the history of sports and sports journalism in Assam during the centenary celebrations.


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Printable version | Jun 11, 2022 3:16:06 am | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/1923-soccer-news-spurs-sports-journalism-centenary-in-assam/article65366792.ece