The sport has received a huge fillip following the recent Senior National championship organised by The Archery Association of Tamil Nadu (TAAT) in the city

As the Secretary of The Archery Association of Tamil Nadu (TAAT), Shihan Hussaini has had to fight many battles on home turf. A week before the Senior National archery championship was held in Chennai, Hussaini had to engage a lawyer to fight a “rebel” association. A couple of days later, he was appealing to the Tamil Nadu Government for financial support for the conduct of the championship.

Despite the odds being heavily stacked against him, Hussaini sounded extremely positive, believing he would come out with flying colours. Never once did he complain or give up.

A thumping success

The Senior Nationals, held for the first time in Tamil Nadu, turned out to be a huge success for TAAT with Hussaini proving to one and all that his organisational capabilities are second to none. His positive vibes rubbed off on to his teammates, who worked tirelessly, to make the Nationals an event to remember for a long time to come.

“It started off with a lot of challenges and finished like a successful film. The National was a box office hit,” quips Hussaini. “There were heroes, heroines, villains and jokers. The final day was a superb climax with the Chief Minister giving us Rs. 50 lakh. It was amazing.”

If Hussaini thought he handled thorny issues well, there was one problem that was beyond his ability — the fury of Nature. On the second day of the tournament, heavy rain lashed the city, making life difficult for the organisers. But the 100-odd volunteers and officials ensured things stayed on course.

TAAT’s handling of the archers and officials came in for much praise. Hussaini was particular that it should be the best National ever conducted. “I wanted it to be a memorable event. At any National, the organisers charge for everything. I have attended several such events before. I can say with authority that we didn’t charge even a penny from the archers. We provided the best accommodation possible to around 600 archers,” he said.

The competition director, Ms. Matsiewdorwar Nongbri, was all praise for the host. She said it was not mandatory for the State Association to provide targets for practice prior to the event, but the host did this, something that was unheard of.

“Normally, the archers don’t get time to practice before the Nationals. But we ensured that the archers got to practice with as many as 100 targets. They were delighted with the arrangements we made for them. We would even give them gifts everyday, a gesture no one had made before. In the end, all the archers returned home happy. We presented each one with a ponnadai (shawl). Besides, they were also (apart from the top three) given a gold medal as a memento.”

It was not as if the event was without a blemish. Computing the results and providing the information to the media took a long time. The qualifier results didn’t arrive on the same day, and the results of the recurve quarterfinals and semifinals weren’t provided.

When Olympians Rahul Banerjee, Jayanta Talukdar, Bombaiyala Devi lost early in the individual round, the Archery Association of India didn’t think it fit to release the results. Hussaini admitted as much and said, “In our next meeting, we will talk to the Archery Association of India and ensure such lacunae are remedied and don’t recur the next time.”

Hussaini strongly believes Tamil Nadu can become a hub for archery. “We’ve begun training youngsters in schools and colleges in the sport. It has already taken root in the Officers Training Academy and Stella Maris College. We have asked the State Government for an archery range to be set up near Vandalur Zoo. The authorities have reacted positively to it. The next Olympian will be from Tamil Nadu,” said a confident Hussaini.