KHAMMAM: While the Agency areas in the State are one of the most backward regions in the country, three youths from Cherla mandal in the Bhadrachalam Agency area have been proving their mettle in targetball across the country and world. Though not much is known about targetball, reports say that the sport originated in India. And, who better than the indigenous residents of the land to represent the country in the sport?
A veteran of the game, Irpa Anitha, who is from Bodanalli village, started playing targetball in 2018, two years after the sport was recognised by the School Games Federation of India (SGFI). A member of the Indian women’s targetball team, Anitha has won several medals and awards in the sport.Currently, she is in Dhaka, the capital city of neighbouring Bangladesh, to participate in the international targetball event. Sode Sai Vinay from Pusuguppa village and Irpa Sanghamitra from Koyyur village are representing the men’s team at the event.
All of them trained under Sanghamitra’s cousin, Irpa Ravi, who was the district secretary for Targetball Association at the time. Later, the three of them took coaching from Sode Vinod in Cherla from the age of 14. Then, they underwent training in Hyderabad from coach Revanth. He was the one who spotted their talent and nudged them in the right direction.
Dedication pays off
Sanghamitra’s mother Sode Shanta tells Express that her son had an interest in sports since his childhood. “Though we are poor, we were able to encourage him to follow his passion, and it has yielded good results,” she adds.She urges the authorities to support the three sports wizards from the mandal so that they can raise India’s flag higher across the world.
Anitha mentions she is confident that the team would be winning the championship. Despite her unparalleled talent, she remains firmly attached to her roots. “I never expected to represent India and play the sport in foreign countries as I belong to a remote Maoist-affected village,” she tells Express.
“Despite our poverty, my parents have always encouraged me, which has helped me reach where I am now,” she adds.
However, all the three youths are upset with the Integrated Tribal Development Agency (ITDA), who, they claim, hasn’t been working properly for the development of backward tribal regions in the State. Owing to the lack of funds, the trio have been unable to travel to faraway countries for representing their country.“If the government nurtures and encourages the tribal youth, they can do wonders,” a tribal leader Madavi Nehru comments.