While many from the country were gearing up for the India-Pakistan finals in the ICC Champions Trophy last week, little did they know that the men and women throwball teams from India were winning medals and trophies at the World Games 2017, held in Kathmandu. The tournament saw participation from 11 other countries, competing in 43 different categories.
The women’s team defeated Pakistan in a nail-biting final to clinch the title. The men, on the other hand, won against Bangladesh. The majority of players from both the teams hail from Telangana. We interact with the players, their coach and the Throwball Federation to know more about what’s in store for the sport on home ground.
An enthusiastic bunch
The teams’ achievements got lost somewhere amid the nation mourning India’s cricket fiasco but they were excited, nevertheless. “Yes, there’s the lack of publicity for the game but we are very excited about this victory,” says Krishna Induja, the captain of the women’s team. While the Indo-Pak rivalry has always been the talk of the town, Krisha says it was fun taking selfies with the Pakistani players.
Kiran, a player from the men’s team, talks about his experience. He says, “It was a great experience interacting with teams of other countries. We noticed how some teams have facilities that are far beyond what we have while there are other teams that don’t have the benefits that we do. We are in the middle.”
All the Indian players share one emotion — their love for the sport. In fact, players Charan and Aasritha tell us how difficult it was to convince their families to let them take up the sport. More so for Sharon who let go of a job opportunity to be part of the tournament. “Though I wanted to take up the job, I couldn’t give up on this game because it gives me a sense of being alive. I call it my first love,” she says. The teams’ coach Venkat Kommu is charged up about being selected as the national coach for the first time. “We have brilliant players. All they need is encouragement. We are already looking forward to the next tournament,” he says.
The supporting staff is worried about the lack of funds. Being a non-Olympic sport could be the disadvantage. “As we had to fund ourselves, we could only take students who could afford to bear the costs themselves,” says P. Jagan Mohan Goud, Joint Secretary, Throwball Federation of India.
“This victory will be a huge push for our request for funds from the government. With some effort, the Telangana state government is recognising us, though we are yet to be allotted funds. The aim is to get recognition and support on the national level too,” he explains. Meanwhile, the players crave for stable jobs and educational benefits, which other sports players receive.
The team is already gearing up for the next big tournament, the Asian Championship, that will be hosted in Hyderabad later this year. “Hosting players from other countries and planning an international tournament is going to be no easy task. We are leaving no stone unturned,” says Jagan Mohan.