Bringing together sports personalities of India, who have either written books or have been the subject of one or more books, Play Write 2018, a first-of-its-kind sports literature festival of India, got off to a colourful start here on Saturday.

Being organised under the ambit of the Vibrant Networking Forum, the two-day festival was inaugurated by hockey legend Balbir Singh Sr., who is a three-time Olympic gold champion having played a key role in India’s wins in the London, Helsinki and Melbourne Olympics.

While Balbir narrated some gripping stories from his childhood describing how his love for the game of hockey began, the audience was spellbound by the energy and humour with which the 95-year-old legend spoke.

He expressed gratitude to his parents for believing in him and letting him pursue his love for the game.

“I still remember the feeling when the Indian flag was hoisted at the 1948 Olympics when we beat Britain 4-0 to clinch India’s first Olympic Gold. The sense of patriotism that I felt is beyond any other feeling in the world,” he said.

“I feel extremely fortunate today to share my life journey at this unique sports literature forum that I am sure shall inspire the current generation to pursue their dreams in the field of sports. A sports specific lit fest, especially in a city like Chandigarh, can play a major role in ensuring that this genre of writing gets the support it deserves,” he said.

Co-founder of the event Vivek Atray said, “The idea behind Play Write, 2018 is to pay an ode to sports and the art of literature. Today, we welcome a galaxy of writers and sportspersons who have contributed indispensably in their respective fields.”

He added, “We plan to make Play Write an annual affair. This is just the beginning and we look forward to the years to come.”

The sports literature festival will feature 10 interesting sessions covering games like hockey, cricket, marathon running, soccer, boxing, women’s rugby and kabaddi.

Kings XI Punjab players will be part of a session on cricket and I-League champions Minerva Punjab FC will be represented in a discussion on football.