Durand Cup will miss Kunduda
When I received a mail about the demise of Flight Lt. Mr PP Kundu from one of my friends in India, I became a little emotional. Many of those who are writing or following Indian football, wouldn’t really know who he was.
Kunduda, as he was affectionately called by the officials, coaches and players, was one of the tireless workers who along with his boss, the late Wing Cdr KK Ganguly, made Durand Cup one of the most fabulous football tournaments in the country.
Though I didn’t have the opportunity to meet Mr Ganguly, but I came across a very simple but disciplinarian Kunduda when I covered the first Durand Cup in 1996.
Delhi’s winter brought Durand Cup and along with it, Kunduda. Though he wasn’t the secretary of the Durand Cup Society, yet everybody used to trust his managerial capabilities. The team’s arrival, boarding, food and other logistics, he managed them single-handedly, first from the one-room DSA office near the entrance of Ambedkar Stadium and, then later due to the crunch of space, the dingy basement of the Ambedkar Stadium became his makeshift office. But Kunduda didn’t crib or complaint because he knew Durand Cup was bigger and important than him. He worked tirelessly from morning till night, travelled by bus and knew so much about football.
Since 1996 till 2006, it became a routine for me to visit the venue and collect the media passes from Kunduda. I’ve never seen him use a computer. He had faith in his memory and a very old log book, which I guess would have been 20-years old then. Even till the last time when he was around before he retired some couple of years back, Kunduda smilingly said: “Aminul, I’ve become old. So, I’ve given the media accreditation responsibility to someone else.”
Due to his falling age, he wanted to retire. But the Durand Cup organisers wanted him to be there because of Kunduda’s vast experience with the world’s third oldest football tournament.
I remember meeting him for the last time. Maybe in 2008 or 2009, when Durand Cup Society handed over the tournament to one event management company who wanted to make everything jazzy to attract fans, and teams like Mohun Bagan or East Bengal became less serious about Durand Cup.
But Kunduda was right to point out that Durand Cup don’t need any jazzy entertainment because the name is enough. His words still ring my ears.
Unfortunately, he died unsung and forgotten. Nobody from Durand Society attended his funeral except another retired man CR Sharma. Kunduda and his Mr. Ganguly did better work in two months of conducting Subroto Cup and Durand Cup than probably the entire AIFF does.
Rest in peace, Kunduda.