Dadar Parsi Zoroastrian Sports Club (DPZSC) is one of the well known maidan clubs in the city.
It may not be on par with the traditional Dadar Union Sporting, Parsee Cyclist, Shivaji Park Gymkhana or the three gymkhanas at the Kennedy Seaface — Hindu, Islam, Catholic or Parsee — which have rich cricketing history but the Matunga’s Dadkar Maidan club is still sought after in Mumbai.
The club, which came into being in 1926 under the leadership of a cricket-loving Parsi —Jahangir Pithawala — celebrated its 85th anniversary on Monday.
Incidentally, it coincided with the 60th birthday of Mangesh Bhalekar, who has been managing the club for more than three decades.
Impressed with the youngster’s dedication and hardwork, Pithawala had willed the club to Bhalekar, 30 years ago.
The club, which plays in the B Division Kanga League, has produced Test players like Lalchand Rajput and Chandrakant Pandit to name a few. The late former India wicket-keeper Naren Tamhane has coached at the club while Ramakant Desai started playing cricket from this venue at the age of 15.
One of the important aspects of the club is that it offers free coaching and cricket kits to the students of BMC School. “We don’t take money from poor kids. In fact we have never done that since the club came into origin under Massa Seth (Jahangir Pithawala). He never took money from anyone. We don’t charge MCA for organising its matches on this ground. Be it any school, college or office tourneys, I want cricket to be played free of cost,” said Bhalekar, the winner of Shiv Chhatrapati Award 2002.
So where do they get the funds from to maintain the club facilities?
“We charge people who play friendly matches. That’s how we recover our costs and maintain the ground,” he added.
While other clubs have indoor facilities for games and other recreational purposes, DPZC throw open their doors to children of the lesser-privileged.
“At night, the dressing rooms become study/class room for the poor students of the BMC school, who don’t have a private room to study. We don’t have a bar or a room to play cards or other sports,” added Bhalekar.
Former Test cricketer and Mumbai Cricket Association joint secretary Lalchand Rajput said that the club had helped him during his struggling period.
“They have never charged anyone a single penny for anything. I was blessed to have someone like Mangesh Bhalekar during my playing days. He used to give us nets at any given time and new
cricket balls for free. I was lucky to be there (at the club) at the right place at the right time,” said Rajput.