“Please don’t compare me with N Srinivasan sir. He has built a legacy and I am just starting off,” says Sanjay Kapoor, a trifle embarrassed when reminded that he has something in common with one of the most powerful administrators in Indian cricket.
Kapoor, who is BCCI’s appointed Venue Director for the first Test between India and New Zealand at the iconic Green Park, has a bigger identity in the Indian sporting field.
The multi-millionaire businessman from Kanpur is currently the president of All India Chess Federation (AICF) just like the former BCCI president, who headed the organization back in 2007 when he was also the treasurer of cricket board.
Kapoor is currently the president of the Kanpur Cricket Association (KCA) and wants Green Park to host a “memorable Test match”.
“Right now, my only aim is to see that we give all stake-holders all the facilities needed to have a memorable Test match, which matches the history of this iconic venue.
“I have taken over as Venue Director for past 10-12 days and in my decade long association with Green Park, we have been able to ring in changes,” Kapoor said.
But now, UP has a stadium in Lucknow (Ekana Stadium) where IPL matches will be held regularly from next season, doesn’t it basically push a ground like Green Park behind?
“Green Park has a heritage. Heritage comes with history and thus legacy is created. New technology can be built, new stadiums can be constructed but heritage has its own place, own feel, own charisma. That’s unmatchable and Green Park is an iconic stadium and there is a sense of nostalgia in the blades of grass,” Kapoor said about the ground where India won its first ever Test match in 1959.
“Your passion for the game that drives you and I believe if you want to do something good, I believe you can,” said the 45-year-old administrator, who has a chain of educational institutions across the city.
But having been associated with cricket has given him an idea that even chess could be commercialised.
“I have a responsibility of running chess in India and that’s a bigger responsibility. I will change the face of chess in these three years,” he said.
He has had some conversations with the iconic Viswanathan Anand but for him it’s important to be a players’ man.
“I talk to Vishy Anand from time to time but primarily when it comes to handling of players, the AICF secretary does the job. I always try to keep in touch with all the players and everybody has my number now. They can call me anytime.”
So what can chess take away from cricket and Kapoor feels that the franchise model that can be used to commercialise and help the players earn more money from the game.
“We are trying to create a franchise model for the game in the country just like IPL. I think it will be rolling by Summer next year. Indian Chess League. Everything will be done and it’s on course,” he said.
So like Mr Srinivasan, any bigger ambitions to have a broader role in BCCI in coming days? He laughs.
“Till I am doing chess, I can’t be a BCCI office-bearer and now I want to help chess reach its position. In cricket, my focus as venue director is this match only. And what future holds in store, I can’t predict as I am not God,” he concluded.