The jail inmates including the lifers and murder convicts are also taking cues from their favourite players to train for a football league of their own – ‘Jail inmates Football League’. (Agencies)
The West Bengal Correctional Department (WBCD) in its effort to bring those jailed into the mainstream recently started organising various recreational programmes, including cultural fests and sports events. Football is the newest addition to the list.
Though the department in association with the Football Lovers Association has been organising football matches between six central correctional homes in the state every year since 2012, this is the first time that a team comprised of convicts will participate in the North 24-Paragans district football League championship starting from July.
"This year we have decided to set up a team of 30 players from among convicts of six central correctional homes, out of which 11 players will be picked up to play the district football championship," ADG (Prison) Adhir Sharma said.
Sharma said this was a unique initiative taken after witnessing the passion for the game among the inmates.
Among the 30 convicts, who have been selected for the team, are dreaded criminals like Robin Mallik, Mukesh Singh, Somnath Mistry, Laltu Sheikh and Hubba Shyamal.
Sharma said that he had already written to the IFA to allow the team of jail inmates to play in the next Kolkata Football League.
"We have written to them. Now we are waiting for the team to perform in the upcoming North 24-Paraganas football league," he said.
According to a jail official, there are some among the inmates who used to play football before they joined the criminal world.
The WBCD which has six central correctional homes - Presidency, Alipore, Dum Dum, Medinipore, Bahrampore and Jalpaiguri - has been organising football matches between inmates of these correctional homes for the last two years.
Last year, the Alipore Correctional Home was the winner of the football tournament - christened 'Utsav Cup 2013'.
Mihir Das, the coach and one of the main organisers of the football tournament apart from Sharma, said he had been impressed by the skills of the inmates.
"I have been training them for the last two years and you will be astonished if you witness their skills and techniques on the field," Das said.
Das, who personally selected eight convicts each from Alipore, Dum Dum and Presidency and two each from Jalpaiguri, Baharampore and Medinipore, trains them for two days a week in the Dum Dum jail campus and they train on their own during the rest of the week.
Sharma said that special arrangements allowing them to watch the World Cup on television were a part of the training programme.
The jail inmates including the lifers and murder convicts are also taking cues from their favourite players to train for a football league of their own – ‘Jail inmates Football League’.