Category Archives: Sports


Parsi Gymkhana returns to cricket roots under Khodadad

The former greats of the game like Farokh Engineer, Nari Contractor and Polly Umrigar now make way for a new generation of champions at the Parsi Gymkhana.
Parsi Gymkhana was founded in 1884 by Parsi Cricketers. Photo credit: Wikimedia commons

Since its founding in 1884, the Parsi Gymkhana in Mumbai has been a centre for Parsi cricket and served as a platform for stalwarts like Farokh Engineer, Nari Contractor and Polly Umrigar.

132 years since its founding, a new generation of champions such as Aditya Tare, Suryakumar Yadav, Balwinder Singh Sandhu and Aavishkar Salvi have emerged to carry on the legacy.

“I became a member in the year 1984 and played from 1985 to 1991,” recalls Khodadad Yazdegardi, vice-president of the Parsi Gymkhana and secretary of cricket. “Our side comprised of all Parsis in the playing XI and maybe two non-Parsis in the whole squad.”

Cricket revival

As time passed, cricket began to play a smaller role in the club, with participation declining. Some left the sport, others went abroad and fewer Parsis turned up to play. “Maybe there was a lot of pressure to study or maybe the youngsters chose football.”

The gymkhana decided to revive interest in cricket and in 2011, the president and managing committee approached Khodadad. “When I took over in 2011, most of the boys decided to leave when they saw the (previous) secretary leave. Fortunately, the Kanga League was a washout that year and then I approached Zubin Barucha, my old friend and captain, to get me a good coach,” says Khodadad.

Finding the right coaches

His search led to Omkar Salvi, who went on to play an instrumental role in revitalising the team. Salvi, however, moved on to become the bowling coach of Mumbai and Khodadad found a suitable replacement in Vinayak Mane. “From the very first day, I was clear in my mind that the process is important and not the final results,” says Khodadad. He and Mane set about creating a culture that would bring new life into the side. “I want every boy who wants to play for Mumbai to aim to play for the Parsi Gymkhana.”

“The administration showed great interest and the cricket committee was very supportive of grooming cricketers for the club,” says Mane, now the Mumbai U-16 coach. He talks about the various changes that were brought into place, including the arrival of Dr Makarand Waingankar and physician Dr Kinjal Suratwala.

Parsi Gymkhana team posing for a picture after winning the 2017 Padmakar Talim Shield Cricket Tournament. Photo credit: Khodadad Yazdegardi

Hard work pays off

The next few years saw rapid changes come to pass, with modern facilities and right techniques introduced. Today, the Parsi Gymkhana is back in the ‘A’ Division, having won the A. F. S. Talyarkhan three years in a row, and, after a gap of almost 70 years, entering the finals of the Talim Shield and Purshottam Shield cricket tournaments.

“I think it’s a great club,” says Aditya Tare, Ranji player and captain of the squad, when asked what it’s like to be associated with the gymkhana. “It is one of the pioneers of Mumbai cricket and has a rich history. It is also a very motivated club and wants to do well. We have got a couple of terrific coaches and as a professional cricketer; the facilities that they provide at the club level are phenomenal.”

Balwinder Singh Sandhu Jr started playing for the gymkhana U-19 team and got his break when selected for the Mumbai Ranji team. “The kind of approach and preparation towards the game is totally different now,” he speaks on the changes. “The interaction between the coaches and the players personally is a lot more and coaches like Vinayak (Mane) and Omkar Salvi are the kind you want on your team.”

Positive effects

As their performance improved, Khodadad noticed a pleasant change. “I’ve seen a lot of members come to watch our matches now. Lots of members used to come every Sunday to watch our games and now for the last two years, I’ve seen them begin returning.”

The future looks bright with several players already advanced to the higher level of cricket and many more probables in the wings. “I am a firm believer that everything is secondary in life to a person’s character and sports build character,” Khodadad shares.

“Besides cricket, I try to inculcate a very strong character in all the boys. We try to make them so mentally strong out here that nothing bothers them. When these boys play, their performance will carry them through. Four of my boys play Ranji Trophy today and it’s all been on pure performance.”

Parsi Gymkhana players get together after winning the 2016 R.F.S. Talyarkhan Memorial Invitation Cricket Tournament. Photo credit: Khodadad Yazdegardi

Close-knit team

More than the professional atmosphere and fantastic facilities, the team comes across as a close-knit unit that is always ready to support each other. This feeling comes across clearly when Khodadad speaks passionately about ‘his boys’. “More than anything else,” says Khodadad, “you know these boys are like a family. We back each other always, even if the boy is not playing in the side. If a boy fails, we still back him.”

“The team dynamics here are brilliant,” says Sandhu. “All the seniors are approachable and the communication level is really good. These guys are open to sharing their thoughts and experiences. I think the management understands the player really well too.”

Mane seconds his thoughts. “I’d like to mention (Aditya) Tare, Aavishkar (Salvi),Ballu (Balwinder Singh Sandhu) and Surya (Suryakumar Yadav), their experience, knowledge and commitment set an example for the others on how to approach club cricket even after playing at a higher level. They are helping the team grow year after year.”

Work ethic

“The commitment the players show is tremendous,” observes Mane. “We have all been brought up like that and show this commitment at whatever level we play. Now, we have a good set of players which will produce good cricketers who will play for Mumbai and maybe the country.”

Khodadad has a bigger aim for the club. “The main thing is to make sure any boy who aims to play a good level of cricket will try to get in the Parsi Gymkhana team and work hard because here, we eat, breathe and train cricket.”

Tare validates Khodadad’s claims. “As a cricketer what we require is good facilities to practise, good coaches, good grounds and pitches and the Parsi Gymkhana ticks all the boxes. Khododad and the administrators are open-minded and accepting and it helps as a player to have that support system,” he concludes.

Zeven, 21 July 2017

Calling all Zoroastrian Soccer lovers!!!

Get ready TODAY for the Z Unity Cup in September!


Details are below:


What: 10th Zoroastrian Unity Cup – Soccer Tournament
When: September 2-3, 2017
Where: Aviation Park, Redondo Beach, CA, USA

Registration: $95 USD – early bird pricing ends June 25th
Team Members: 6 (min) – 8 (max) and can be co-ed or sign up as an Individual Participant



Contact Zamyad Meherji @ 647-834-2494 or for more details and to form a team.




ZSO Communications
Zoroastrian Society of Ontario

Cancer Surivor Kayaan Wins Glory for India

Kayaan Sarosh Anklesaria, aged 13, is a student of St. Mary’s (ICSE) in Mumbai and a prominent member of the Bombay Parsi Punchayet’s athletic team. Fighting cancer is hard for anyone, leave alone a child. Massive surgery, pain and sickness, many sessions of chemotherapy, radiation and constant rounds of hospitals all take their toll. Kayaan became weak and frail. He was always athletic, but his physical weakness in the wake of cancer began to affect his confidence. Kayaan was asked to participate in World Children’s Winners’ Games – a fantastic programme where young cancer survivors, compete internationally in sporting events like rifle shooting, table tennis, running, swimming, football and so forth. His supportive parents, Shernaz•and Sarosh Anklesaria, were initially a bit reluctant as Kayaan had been through hell. Blit the dynamic social worker at Tata Memorial Hospital, Ameeta Bhatia, motivated them. Thus began Kayaan’s journey to glory — but not without guts and gumption! The young lad gave it everything he had.

Kayaan started going to Vile Parle for rifle shooting at Prabhodhan, for table tennis 

at Parthe Academy at Parel, for football at St Xavier’s, for chess with coach Sharad Vaze at Tata Hospital and to Rustom Baug for athletics training with BPP coach Dara Doomasia who is Kayaan’s longstanding mentor. This year’s games World Children’s Winners’ Games were held at Moscow, where 500 children from 16 countries participated. There were 14 children from India who won 26 medals. Kayaan won a Gold Medal in table tennis, a Silver in chess, a Bronze in rifle shooting and another Bronze in football. Says the young lad: “It is a tremendous feeling to bring hon-our to one’s country.” By Ahura Mazda’s grace, Kayaan won the highest medal tally (4 out of 5 events) and was Champion of the World Children’s Winners’ Games and was chosen to perform the closing ceremony at the grand event. Says Kayaan’s mom Shernaz: “My heart was bursting with pride when Kayaan won the Gold Medal for table tennis. I watched with tears in my eyes as Kayaan stood beaming on the victory podium holding the Indian flag. I thought of the arduous journey from the pronouncement of a grim medical verdict at a doc-tor’s clinic in Mumbai to this amazing moment in Moscow. We thank from the bottom of our hearts Kayaan’s doctors: Dr. Dev Pujari, Dr. Anahita Hegde, Dr. Rakesh Jalali and Dr. Girish Chinnaswamy who combine medical excellence with kindness. But nothing would be possible without the divine grace of my Dadar Ahura Mazda. HE gave us strength and literally carried us through our difficult times.” Jame and its readers salute Kayaan. May Ahura Mazda shower abundant bless-ing and Tandarosti upon this young star of the Parsi community.


Jame Jamshed : 18 June 2017


Sporting Parsis, and the making of Indian Cricket: Colonial Bombay 1875 – 1915

The Asiatic Society of Mumbai

        takes pleasure in inviting you and your friends to

the 19th Gulestan and Rustom Billimoria Endowment Lecture


Dr. Prashant Kidambi

           Associate Professor in Colonial urban history,

                University of Leicester, U.K.


‘Sporting Parsis, and the making of Indian Cricket: Colonial Bombay 1875 – 1915’


Tuesday, 18th April, 2017, at 5.30 p.m.

in the Durbar Hall of the Society.

Dr. Pheroza Godrej

             Chairperson, Godrej Archives, will preside.

Kindly join us for tea at 5.00 p.m.


Dr. Meena Vaishampayan                      Vispi Balaporia
Chairperson                                               Hon. Secretary
Endowment Lectures Committee

FEZANA Scholarships Applications Open

FEZANA is happy to announce that the application cycle for the FEZANA scholarships for 2017 is open.

FEZANA Offers the following Scholarships

ACADEMIC Scholarships

  • Mehraban and Morvorid Kheradi Endowment Scholarship for Academic Excellence: The FEZANA  Scholar
  • FEZANA 25th Anniversary Endowment  Scholarship For Academic Excellence
  • Morvarid Guiv Endowment Scholarships
  • Purvez and Aban  Rustomji Endowment Scholarship
  • Banoobai and Maneckshaw Kapadia Endowment Scholarship  for Financial Assistance
  • Dr Minocher Rustom Vesuna and Dowlat Minocher Vesuna WZO Canada Endowed Scholarships
  • Sheroo Darabsha Kolsawala Endowed Scholarship

To read the eligibility criteria and apply click here


The FEZANA Performing and Creative Arts Scholarship (P&CAS) provides financial support to Zarathustis who are performing artists in music, drama, etc. or practice other creative art forms like literature, poetry, fine arts, sculpture, painting, etc.

To read the eligibility criteria and apply click here


The Excellence in Sports Scholarship is to provide financial support to young Zarathushtis who are performing exceptionally and at highly recognized levels in any sport.

To read the eligibility criteria and apply click here

How are champions made? Ask the ‘Racing Patels’ of Byculla

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While other Mumbai families took their children for a joy ride to Marine Drive, the Patels took theirs on four-wheel off-roading adventures.

In Rustom Patel’s apartment, in the old, Art Deco-inspired Parsi neighbourhood in Byculla, hangs a framed picture of him from 2001. Its easy to miss, hanging as it does amidst a jungle of brass – cups, shields, awards, mementoes, citations – he has collected over a lifetime of racing atop two wheels. Over the years, it has colonised all the shelf space in his apartment and is now threatening the cutlery in the kitchen. And this is just the metal he has collected. His brother Zubin and his cousin Kaizad, have a similar need for industrial quantities of Brasso – the brothers Patel have dominated the sport of motocross racing and off-road biking in India, from the late ‘80s to the late 2000s.

The “Patels of Racing” they were called and if you were a young speed junkie gunning the throttle for glory in those times, it was always a little annoying to see a Patel in the line up. It meant that the field was now open only for the two spots below number one. Kaizad, the oldest of the three, is a six time national champion, who won the prestigious Rodial trophy in 1988 against foreign competition, at a time the sport was nascent in India. Zubin, who became a legend in the Indian bike racing world in the 1990s, won a rally championship six years in a row apart from being a national motocross champion in both the years he could compete. The youngest, Rustom, whose career took off in 2000, won the national motocross championship eight times and amassed a trophy count nearing 300 before he retired in the late 2000s.

Kaizad at home with his brass collection

All this mettle in one family was of course no accident. According to family legend, the fetish for winning began with the grandfather – Manocher Jamshedji Patel, whose exploits survive in an old Gujarati newspaper cutting, safely tucked away in the family scrapbook. In the early 1900s, a young Manocher chased the record in endurance Indian club swinging: picture if you will, an old black and white reel of a retro sport involving mustachioed strong men from the early 20th century, swinging a 1.5 kg gada or meel, akhara style, 80 revolutions per minute (competition rule) without break for hours on end. Manocher did it for 73 hours.

The single mindedness required to be a champion has an early lineage in the Patels, but a passion for wheels found high gear in Manocher’s sons, Kersi and Fali. The brothers grew up around vintage cars and like many Parsis, found that the roar of the engine spoke a special language to them. One of their pet projects in the 1970s was fashioning a formula racing-style car using an old Jaguar engine and racing, to a 5-year-old Rustom’s delight, on the runway of Juhu airport. While other families took their children for a joy ride to marine drive, the Patels took theirs on four wheel off-roading adventures. It must’ve been quite a sight in the 1970s for motorists to find that they were being overtaken on the dirt tracks of the Himalayas, in the midst of a rally, by a car full of Parsis with a bunch of kids cheering in the backseat. Here is when the monicker “Patel Racing Family” was born.

The Patel cousins: Kaizad, Yezdi, Neville,Zubin and Rustom (Fali and Kersi's children)
The Patel cousins: Kaizad, Yezdi, Neville,Zubin and Rustom (Fali and Kersi’s children)

Blood sport

But a chronology and a history do not cut to the essence of this family. When the Patels say “Racing is in our blood,” they speak of more than just a long familiarity with wheels. To understand them, one must go back to that framed picture in Rustom’s living room, lost among all those trophies, in which a 22-year-old Rustom is on his knees, his hands clenched, looking skyward in thanks.

Kunzum La, the mountain pass connecting the Kullu and Lahaul valley on the eastern Kunzum range in the Himalayas, is among the highest motor-able passes in the world at 4.5 kilometers above sea level. Raid de Himalaya, India’s toughest motorsport event where bikes and cars race a marathon across the Himalayas, is in its second edition. Zubin was on the new Honda Grom, which could reach speeds of 160 kmph. He was there against better advice: he had a National Championship race coming up in Bangalore in just a few weeks, and given the little time, doing a marathon event in the tough conditions of the Himalayas was foolhardy, or at least that’s what his coach said. Zubin was 27 and the hottest thing on wheels. He’d won everything in India and was on course to win another national championship.

Rustom, Kersi and Zubin with their racing bike, retro-fitted at the family garage.
Rustom, Kersi and Zubin with their racing bike, retro-fitted at the family garage.

On the second day of the race on Kunzum La, riding without a pesky oxygen mask, Zubin’s Shaolin flies off the edge of the world. No one knows what could have caused a seasoned rider to go off the edge but the most likely theory is a blackout caused by paucity of oxygen on a fast moving bike, eating up altitude. The bike was never found, but Zubin was – after 8 hours of searching, the race halted and night approaching. Zubin was found cradled in a tree, unconscious without a scratch on his body.

On receiving the news, Kersi and Rustom fly out of Mumbai and rushed to Apollo Hospital in New Delhi, where where Zubin lay in the ICU, following an airlift operation by the army. Father and brother were informed by the doctors that Zubin was, for all purposes, dead. He had three blood clots in his brain and was in a coma he was unlikely to emerge from.

But Zubin is also part man, part metal. He’s got metal in his ankle and knee. He’s got a metal plate in his left elbow and jaw. His right forearm he has broken three times before and so is now basically a rod. His collarbones survived three fractures and somewhere in one of the sockets in his body is a metal ball. He is strong, he is fit and he can’t be broken – or so his family hoped.

Back in Byculla, the Patels organised an intervention with the Gods. A havan was arranged in the club house. Prayers by a whole community over fire, for the sparing of a single life. In this case, Kersi’s chokra who used to win everything in the colony’s annual sports day.

Rustom, meanwhile, who was dealing with the possible loss of a brother he idiolises was informed by his father that not only will he be racing in the national championships in three weeks time but “win it for Zubin or don’t enter the home.”

The national motocross championship that season was fought over six rounds. The first five had been completed before Zubin’s fall, and he was leading the points table, in all the categories that he was racing in, clearly on his way to a title. But in an added excitement for the Patels that year, Zubin wasn’t the only Patel in the race. Rustom was racing too. The brothers were sharing the same pit for TVS’ professional motoracing team. And Rustom was tied for the second place. With Zubin, unable to compete, it was now up to Rustom.

Rustom had just begun coming out of his brother’s shadow recently and he had the actor Amisha Patel to thank for it. A year or so earlier, Rustom was a nobody in the sport, known only as Zubin’s brother. At a big 15 laps Grand Prix race, in the B J Medical Ground in Pune, he found himself shaking hands with the chief guest Amisha Patel, along with all the other riders, before the start of the main race. “She said, you are a Patel? So I said, I am Rustom Patel, you are Amisha Patel. I will win this race for you,” recalls Rustom. “Arrey, I got fully charged after shaking her hand ya,” he said, laughing at the memory. Rustom, a complete outsider, riding an older bike, against pros, led the race from start to finish and became a Patel in how own right.

Now, with his brother fighting for his life and his fathers words ringing in his ear, Rustom had to win to keep the Patel name flying again – he did, and that picture of him kneeling, is from the moment he realised what he had done.

On the 21st day of his coma, Zubin blinked his eyes, refusing to recognise anybody. His memory had gone. The Patels brought him back to Mumbai and on his doctors’ advice began to jog Zubin’s memory with objects, stories and childhood friends herded in from the colony. Zubin’s memory began to return, but very slowly.

Until one day in the middle of 2001. Zubin had begun insisting that he be allowed to get back on a bike for sometime, until finally, presented with an ultimatum, his family relented. Taking the keys to the Honda Activa, Zubin said he’d be going to the family garage, less than 2 km away. He hadn’t been out of the house much since his return from the hospital – would he remember the way, when he had lost so much of his memory in the accident? Rustom and Kersi each got on a bike, Kersi following Zubin at a discreet distance. At the garage in Mazgaon, amidst the grease, the gears and the sprockets, to the sounds of engines being tuned and mechanics welcoming him back, Zubin’s memory returned. The Patels love a good laugh, but when they say racing is in their blood, take them seriously.

Kersi with wife during a Parsi dress competition standing next to their vintage Morris.
Kersi with wife during a Parsi dress competition standing next to their vintage Morris.

All Parsi Fozawac Tennis Tournament


The annual all Parsi Fozawac tennis tournament is scheduled to be played

on 25th and 26th March at Wodehouse gym

9,30 am to 4.30 pm on Sat
9.30 am to 3 pm on Sunday

events are;

1] girls/women’s singles (minimum 4 entries)
2] girls/women’s doubles ( minimum 4 pairs)
3] men’s singles
4] men’s doubles
5] veterans singles above 45
6] veterans doubles above 45
7] Seniors singles above 60
8] Seniors doubles above 6
9) mixed doubles
10) if there are kids U10-12-14 we can make another age group
pls send your entries by email to Naheed / me, clearly mentioning which events and name of partner.

also pls spread the word around the Parsi community and players you know – more the better.

pls email your entry to:

Boston marathon fund raiser – Support for Adil S Nargolwala


In Nov 2015 Adil set a goal to run the major world marathon series and he has so far run the marathons in New York, London, Berlin, Chicago & will run in Tokyo in two weeks on the 26th of February.

Adil was recently listed in the Limca book of records as the national holder of running the maximum long distance races in a year.

The Special Olympics team has chosen him to run the final major marathon in Boston on the 17th of April 2017 with them.

Till date only 5 Indians out of 1292 marathon runners in the world have accomplished running all 6 majors marathons.

With your help he hopes to be the 6th Indian.

To accomplish his goal by running the final world major marathon in Boston is the icing on the cake.

He has committed to the Special Olympics team a fund raising goal of USD 8500. The special Olympics team uses funds for working with disabled athletes to achieve their goals.

To kick start his fundraiser he has donated USD 2000 and requests you to please donate generously to help him achieve his fund raising goal.

To donate click the link –



India’s Jehan Daruvala will start the 62nd New Zealand Grand Prix from pole position, cementing another M2 Competition front row lockout after their qualifying one performance.

Qualifying for the New Zealand Grand Prix began with much of the field lying idle in the pit lane. Just a handful exited as the session went green, with Brendon Leitch and Pedro Piquet two of the men choosing to head out.

Once again, the time set early in the session weren’t of the pace set in the first qualifying session. It seemed many were looking to fine tune their setup as they hovered around the 1:03 and 1:04-mark.

Thomas Randle made the first steps towards Friday’s pace, when he dropped into a 1:02.828. He was quickly usurped by Pedro Piquet, then Richard Verschoor who went second quickest behind the Brazilian.

The surprise early on came from Harry Hayek who went fastest on a 1:02.672. Unfortunately for him though, his time on top was short lived as Piquet and teammate Daruvala went quickest.

Richard Verschoor then went about eclipsing the fastest times set in the first qualifying to hit the top of the timesheets. As was the case for much of the season, the times fluctuated at the top of the order as Randle then Daruvala went quickest.

Christian Hahn was lucky to get away without a big lose when he went wide at turn three. Marcus Armstrong nearly went off in similar fashion as he got loose exiting the same corner.

Pedro Piquet slotted into the top spot with a storming lap of 1:02.229, but his teammate Daruvala went just four hundredths quicker to demote him to second.

Just like qualifying one, the front runners began to hit their tyre limit and couldn’t quite manage to improve their pace. Despite a few last lap dashes by Verschoor and Armstrong, the pair couldn’t beat the pace of Daruvala who took pole position for the New Zealand Grand Prix.

Castrol Toyota Racing Series qualifying two: 

1. Jehan Daruvala 1:02.258
2. Pedro Piquet + 0.041
3. Thomas Randle + 0.066
4. Marcus Armstrong + 0.126
5. Richard Verschoor + 0.182
6. Kevyan Andres + 0.220
7. Brendon Leitch + 0.251
8. Enaam Ahmed + 0.385
9. Taylor Cockerton + 0.407
10. Harry Hayek + 0.414


Author : Simon Chapman

Daruvala wins New Zealand Grand Prix –

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