CHENNAI: Professionals from different walks of life taking to sports to de-stress has been a trend for a while. To get away from thoughts of the daily grind and recharge, they take time out of their busy schedules and play. Some do it also to stay fit. These are mostly recreational activities, competitive at times, but generally for fun.
For a bunch of IT professionals in Chennai, this pastime has turned into something more serious. Meet Barathwaj NRG, an IT analyst working for TCS, who is making softball popular among professionals from his field. It’s like baseball, with certain differences.
Formed three years ago, the TCS Softball Club has become not just a regular in the state championship, but also one of the contenders to win it. “Three of our players had represented Tamil Nadu. With their help we formed the club. And now we are one of the contenders in the championship organised by Tamil Nadu Softball Association. We have been runners-up and also finished third,” sayBarathwaj.
Having played cricket in his school days, Barathwaj feels softball is a perfect way to unwind for professionals occupied otherwise with work-related thoughts. “Working in the IT field, one needs some relaxation. We find softball interesting and it’s fun playing. There is no age bar and the games have a picnic feel to them, which is a perfect way to relax,’’ says the 26-year old.
Barathwaj is one of the senior players in the state. Having played cricket, he did not find the switch that difficult. “Softball is similar to cricket and my coach wanted me to try it out. There was a selection trial to pick the Tamil Nadu sub-junior team. I attended it and got selected. Gradually, I got hooked on to softball. It is more fast-paced than cricket. I got admitted to an engineering course at Sri Sairam Institute of Technology through the Anna University sports quota. I formed a college softball team and finished runners-up in the Anna University inter-zonal championship,’’ recollects Barathwaj.
Softball isn’t a household name yet, but Tamil Nadu has seen a rise in the number of players. There are around 400 boys and girls who play the game. The state championship is held regularly and Chennai district does well in it. “Around 12 districts actively participate in the state championships. Then there are national and zonal events. Our players are regulars in those. The Chennai district has won four state championship titles,” says Barathwaj, who was a member of the Indian team which participated in the Asian Men’s Softball Championship in Jakarta in 2018. At present, the Chennai and Tamil Nadu teams use a few school grounds for practice. They are keen to have their own facility with help from the Sports Development Authority of Tamil Nadu. “We need help to have our own turf,’’ says the former Tamil Nadu captain.
Major differences between softball and baseball
In baseball, the ball is pitched overarm. In softball, it is pitched underarm.
The base running distance is 90 ft in baseball. It is 60 ft in softball.
In baseball, base stealing is allowed. In softball, this is not allowed.