TATA POWER -FINISH SOCIETY TURN THE TIDE IN DHANBAD
Shaping 400 young rural prodigies to usher in a sporting revolution
Team work, discipline and healthy competition are three basic tenets of a sports programme, which was recently launched with much fanfare in Dhanbad. You could say it is a case of breaking new grounds in harnessing the energy of youth in a post-Covid 19 society. The cash flow in the area is better as compared to other areas in the block but this also results in involvement of the youth in turning towards social ills like alcoholism, drugs, gambling, betting, etc. The project was envisaged to channelise youngsters’ energies towards sports disciplines and within a short period of around three months they have succeeded in turning the tide to a large extent.
Only recently, Tata Power Community Development Trust (TPCDT) and FINISH Society joined hands to celebrate National Sports Day at Raj Ground in Poddardih village in Nirsa block of Dhanbad district of Jharkhand under a project on Financial and Social Inclusion. The number of medals won by their teams in the team and individual events was so heartening that the two partners realised they were on the right track. This project is sponsored by TPCDT in their Maithan Power Limited, Nirsa project area and implemented by FINISH Society.
They organised this meet to motivate rural youth and children to take up various sports that are being promoted under the project. The project covers 21 villages in the area and provisions have been made for coaching by hiring 6 national and state level layers. These 6 professional coaches are providing training in football, kabaddi, volleyball and athletics in two grounds situated at the Maithan Power Ltd (MPL) campus which is immaculately maintained complete with a football ground, volleyball court, kabaddi court and provisions for track and field events. The ground maintenance and sports equipment are also provided by the project. The project initially aims to cover 400 youth and children in the area. The coaches have to visit students’ parents to convince their children to help them acquire cutting-edge skills under the guidance of the six coaches appointed by FINISH Society.
Preparing Football Prodigies
After 14 years of active participation at the district level national football coach Vikram is busy preparing football prodigies of the future. He says, “One of my students recently played at the national level (under 17) held at Silchar, Assam and four of my students were selected to be trained under a specialised coach from abroad, at Jamshedpur. Usually we select around 20 children for a team but we keep working on the rest and train them further.” He also said that many boys and some girls have also shown interest which is a good sign. He adds, “My children are mostly from poverty–stricken families but I advise them to consume eggs and bananas regularly and in case, that is difficult I advise them to consume rice starch as it is a very good source of energy.” He further adds that they not only train them to be a good sportsperson but teach them discipline and try and bring about behavior change too.
Volleyball Coach Ganesh
National Volleyball coach Ganesh who currently trains around 35 children, has recently played for the senior nationals at Jharkhand. He too says, “Most of the children come from backward areas where people are hardly aware of volleyball and are mostly inclined towards football. Sometimes it is hard to motivate them but I hope to have at least 30 more children soon.” He adds that he persuades them to see the game first, understand and then join the team.
He adds: “Recently there was a match and I took the responsibility of picking and dropping some children. I also took care of their refreshments and tried everything to build their interest.” He added that out of the 16 teams that participated in the recent match, he took three teams and paid their entry fees as well and as expected they had a winner too.
He also adds that most children play barefoot as they don’t have shoes. Often, they are not properly dressed due to lack of amenities but their enthusiasm is worth encouraging them for the future.
Girls’ Athletics Coach Basanti
It is indeed difficult for just two coaches to train so many children in various athletic events but national football player and female coach Basanti aims to achieve a lot in the coming six months. Basanti, who takes care of discuss, shot-put, javelin and other athletics including running has high hopes from at least 6 children out of the 34-35 children she trains. She says, “I am sure to get at least five medals in the forthcoming district meet.”
She also adds that after Neeraj Chopra made the country proud, a lot of children have shown interest in throw events especially girls. She says, “Whenever an athlete is tired, I make it a point to motivate her to keep going and not quit practice.”
Talking about how she got interested in sports as a career was when she saw a ball and started playing with it. This helped her come forward and she realised that football and field sports were her calling, and her family too happily supported her. She adds that since most students are children of farmers and workers in the company, arranging fancy athletic gear is difficult but she hopes to provide them with kits soon.
Girls’ Football Coach Jayashree Gorai
Former national player and Jharkhand girls’ team manager Jayashree currently takes care of 85 footballers. She shares that two of her boys’ team will be participating in the district league soon. She shares that children from all backgrounds practice at a couple of grounds situated at MPL which is close by. These sports include football, athletics, volleyball and kabbadi.
She says, “In most cases I visit door to door for mobilisation. I often give examples of two girls from Dhanbaad Aasha and Sangeeta who are among the seven girls selected from Jharkhand. They are presently representing the country at the international level. I say that all these girls belong to underprivileged families and if they can make it why can’t you. Your guardians also motivate you unmindful of the fact that you are daughters.” She adds that it was not easy for her to make youngsters to come forward but persistence pays, she adds with a smile.
Two of her girls Reema Bawri and Anamika Kumari also shared their happiness at being members of the football team and being guided by her. Their enthusiasm can be clearly seen when they talk animatedly about their practice sessions.
Athletics Coach Abhijit Patra
State level Athletics coach Abhijit Patra is sure to get at least ten medals at the forthcoming district meet. He says, “I want to continue doing whatever I can to make these children achieve whatever I couldn’t.”
Kabbadi Coach Resham
District and state-level Kabaddi player Resham currently trains around 40 children and shares that six children played at the district level last year.
She shares that initially many children were shy to play because they were not comfortable wearing shorts as most of them belong to villages. She says, “I motivated them by saying that costume doesn’t matter. Many sportspersons have reached heights while being from small towns and villages too.”
Her children belong to the age group of 8-24 years of which 15 are girls and rest are boys. She shares that the best thing about her players is punctuality and that is what warms her heart. She says, “It’s wonderful to be asked about my children and what we are doing.”
Rupesh- Football Star On The Horizon
Fourteen-year-old defender Rupesh loves football more than anything else. Rupesh dreams to play nationals one day. His enthusiasm is clearly visible when he speaks about his one-week training session with foreign coach Carlos who has been brought from Spain to train select young footballers. He says he found the coach’s techniques very innovative and interesting when compared to the traditional techniques that he has been taught so far. He smilingly says: “My idol is Paris Saint Germain (PSG) team’s Sergio Ramos who earlier played for Real Madrid.” Rupesh practices for over five hours a day to achieve his goal of playing in the nationals soon.
Mihilal Mirandi Holds Promise
District level football tournament winner and under 17 player Mihilal Mirandi is all praise for his football coach Bikram, who is playing football since the age of 11. He is one of the lucky fellows who gets full support from his family.
Moumita Poddarich Loves Her Football
Class eleven student Moumita Poddarich who has been playing football for the past two years under her coach Jayashree, gives equal importance to studies too. Sher doesn’t have a father, and stays at her uncle’s place with her mother and sister. Her grandfather is the sole bread-winner and works hard to help Moumita achieve her goal of becoming a top footballer. She loves the way her coach trains her. She says, “When we are unable to play due to rains, she takes theory classes too for better understanding.” This 18-year-old girl aims to play in the nationals in the not too distant future.
It is still early days for this project, and in the next three months this joint initiative is likely to hit the national headlines given the rising love for sports other than cricket now that the Tokyo Olympics has brought India on the world sporting map.