COIMBATORE: The fourth edition of Isha Gramotsavam, a celebration of rural Tamil Nadu, came to a spectacular close with the cricket legend Sachin Tendulkar present as the chief guest.
The finals of the men's volleyball and women's throwball were held in his and Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev's presence.
Though the event was for villagers across Tamil Nadu who excelled in various fields, the city seized the opportunity to shower its love for Sachin, who visited Coimbatore for the first time. The crowds chanted his name throughout. Along with him was Sudhir Kumar Chaudhary his fan who has been present in all his matches.
The team from Tiruchy bagged the first place in volleyball and the team from Devarayapuram, Coimbatore won the throwball finals. Sachin and Sadhguru awarded the winners and the runners up and they shared their thoughts.
As Sachin took to the stage, neither did the cameras stop clicking nor did the chants die.
"Being a sportsman, I am happy to see that sports is being encouraged among villagers and so many have participated. Sports has taught me to be focused and disciplined," he said amid cheers.
He also went to suggest that from the next edition on, the village sports competition should be taken to villages across India and especially the Puttamraju Kandriga village in Andhra Pradesh that he had adopted. Sadhguru, the brain behind the competition, agreed.
Sachin also commented on the team work and shared his views on the people's lifestyle. "It is sad that we are the diabetic capital of the country. We need an immediate change in lifestyle and everyone should play at least one sport. As a youngster I was always told by my grandmother that health is the truest wealth and being healthy is important in every field," he said.
Before the final match between the men began, Sachin served the first shot and shared in his address that as a child he played volleyball too.
"Not just that, even the Indian team, before we went to play a match, played a round of volleyball," he added.
Sadhguru claimed that Sachin was here to celebrate the spirit of rural India and his presence must be an inspiration to pick up a ball and play and wished that he adopted more villages and took sports to villagers.
Sudhir kept the crowd engaged by chanting Sachin's name and blowing on his conch shell. He expressed his happiness in coming to the city for the first time on the same occasion that his idol did.
"I came directly after cheering for the Indian team in Sri Lanka. While I was there my friends told me that Sachin was coming down to Coimbatore and I came down too. I was happy that India won in Sri Lanka after 21 years and the happiness is continuing here too," he said adding that, even after Sachin has retired, Sudhir continues to chant his name when a match is played on Indian grounds.
Among the finalists was Nagamani (78) who has been playing throwball for the past 12 years. Though she has watched Sachin on TV, she was happy to see him live.
"I have never seen his game, but I am happy that he saw me play. He gave a pat on my back and said that I am doing a great job and shook hands with me," she said elated.
After taking the city by storm with his presence, Sachin also gave a glimpse of his batting skills by smashing a six with a ball that Sadhguru delivered at him.