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UJPL: Where youngsters pad up for some real on-field action

The United Jogeshwari Premier League (UJPL) tennis ball-cricket tournament, played among 16 teams, has turned out to be a major crowd puller.

Mumbai: In an era where the youth of India are predominantly spending a lion’s share of their time on social media, the Jogeshwari suburb of Mumbai has been padding up for a major revolution. The move aimed at bringing youngsters back to the open fields for some physical action, rather than perching themselves on social media platforms all the time.

Jogeshwari has been playing host to the United Jogeshwari Premier League (UJPL), a day-and-night cricketing event. This tennis ball-overarm cricket tournament played among sixteen teams has turned out to be a major crowd puller, with people from all walks of life arriving in large numbers to witness the tournament.

Though it could draw comparisons with gully cricket, which is played on the streets, UJPL comes about as a better-organised tourney that follows a game plan and is well-managed. Organised by former municipal Councillor Changez Multani in association with the United Welfare and Education Federation, the United Jogeshwari Premier League follows an annual schedule, which is drafted and approved well in advance. 

UJPL: Where youngsters pad up for some real on-field action
(Middle) Changez Multani

UJPL follows a pre-set calendar

Akin to the major limited over tournaments played on a national level, the United Jogeshwari Premier League has a calendar set much in advance, and that makes it a gaming event that rides a professional approach. 

Every year, the process to set the ball rolling for the United Jogeshwari Premier League gets underway in June. Individual players who dream of being part of the teams that compete with each other fill out online forms seeking selection. This process extends till the middle of October, and by that time the actual selection process is set in motion.

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Come October-end and the selection of players to 16 teams gets started. Each area in Jogeshwari normally files around 150 applications and the best performers are picked from among these online applications. Once the selection of players is complete, team formation is done. Each team is given at least a month for practice so that players in each team get to know each other and bring put their best on the field.

By the end of the year, the United Jogeshwari Premier League finally pads up for the big event. The UJPL is scheduled for the last week of every year, year after year. Accordingly, this year, the tournament was organised on December 22 and 25. This year, Digpu News was the media sponsor for the tournament. The UJPL matches which were streamed on YouTube and 7star Cable Network saw a combined viewership of close to one million. Around 40,000 spectators on the ground added much enthusiasm as they cheered their teams from the gallery.

An annual festive occasion for Jogeshwari

Apart from being an event that brought forth the sporting spirit of the youngsters in full bloom, the United Jogeshwari Premier League has, over the years, assumed the status of a local festival in Jogeshwari. People from Jogeshwari, and the adjoining areas such as Andheri, Goregaon and Versova, flock to the event venue to make it a festive event, year after year. 

Since its inception in 2016, the United Jogeshwari Premier League has become a permanent festive and sporting occasion for Jogeshwari. A steady climb in the number of youth participation in the tennis ball-cricket tournament has been recorded over the years, thus bringing to the fore the significance of on-field sports in the current era. 

Digpu News Staff

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