"Rugby me ek baat special hai. Aap agar cricket, football khelte ho, everyone knows the rules and is always ready to give advice. But when we learn rugby, this feels like our own game. Ki humare upar koi nahi hai, hum sab ko sikhaenge. We teach the game to each other."
I was so surprised when I saw a rugby ball for the first time with Jungle Crows back in 2007. 'Yeh kya nariyal jaisa ball hai, yeh kya ho raha hai?' The program had just started back then. It took me two weeks to see what is going on and understand the game.
"When I came to Jungle Crows, I didn't know what I could do. Slowly, we started getting better. I started learning under Paul Walsh sir. A year later, there was a tournament in Bombay Gymkhana. We were going to go by train, but the train got canceled so we missed out. We were very sad at that time. Paul sir said, 'No problem, you'll go!' There were just two more days to go for the tournament. They helped us fly to Mumbai. FLIGHT!! We couldn't believe it! It was our first flight."
"A couple of us had Jungle Crows written on the t-shirts in the flight, people were asking us 'Are you going to the jungle to watch crows?' We competed hard but lost in the finals."
"We kept growing in confidence, I got to play for the Indian senior rugby team in 2010. Over the years I got to represent West Bengal in three national competitions."
"I was one of the first coaches with Jungle Crows in 2010. We have grown a lot. We started with five locations at the beginning and worked with about 150 kids. Today, we are active at 35 paras in Kolkata with over 1,000 kids."
"Pehele hum coach ki taur pe nahi jaate. We go as big brothers, we are here to teach the kids something. We help them learn how to communicate, how to interact, to not fight among each other. If anyone is in difficulty, we should help them. We find small grounds and play fun games. We play touch rugby which is more non-contact. If the kids are interested, we invite them to play with the Jungle Crows."
"Rugby is our game. Whenever we go anywhere, we never ask about any religion or anything. When the kids look into our eyes, ek apnapan lagta hai. The kids feel ki yeh humare apne bhaiya hai."
"Jab bacche aate hai, khushi se, their eyes light up, and they say "Nanda bhaiya!" That's one of the best feelings."