With limited resources the children of Nelganti manage to have fun!

Unlike metros and urban centres where children can tap a host of facilities and opportunities to hone their skills, learn new things, play games and spend their vacations in their choicest ways, the children living in villages are not well equipped in comparison. Yet, they find their ways to fill the gap and vent their sporting zeal.

No play area

A casual visit to Nelaganti, one of the backward villages of Gokak taluk in the relatively backward North Karnataka region, shows that there is no dearth of talent or innovative ideas among rural children. What they need is the ‘elusive opportunity' to learn and prove that they are equally competent with their urban counterparts.

The village, dominated by the tribal community living in poverty, is nestled atop a remote hill with no public conveyance. While the local school housed in an old building facilitates education up to higher primary, the children are forced to trek and walk a distance of eight to 10 km to reach high school in another village. With only some open space they have no place to play a game. Ironically, the summer vacation running up to two months is a curse in disguise for the children.

Yet, where there's a will there's a way. A group of children came together at an open space and converted it into a potential track for practicing ‘high jump' and ‘long jump'. The rigid vertical uprights and horizontal crossbar are replaced by plant-stems. The ground is plain and hard, and no cushioned pit, it's the same hard ground. Any false move would only result in injury. But, that's not the problem when enthusiasm is high. The sports channel on TV is the only source for them to learn techniques of the sport, which they imitate to a commendable level.

Mutual admiration

For the contestants here, there are neither any prizes nor any reward. The only recognition that comes in their honour is in the form of a collective applause. Though playing a game or engaging in a sports activity is fun for these children, its quite a probability that one of them could become a national and an international athlete if given proper guidance.

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