The Indian Premier League (IPL) has had its fans go crazy year after year. Understanding its success ratio, many clubs and corporate companies started conducting tournaments on similar lines. But not many gave a thought to hosting one for the rural boys until Nal Vidhai came into the scene.

A unit of the Art of Living, Nal Vidhai garnered support from the Coimbatore District Cricket Association (CDCA), to organise the inaugural edition of the Rural Premier League.

And, it turned out to be a big hit. Eight teams from each of the 12 blocks in the district fought for a place in the super league. But only two from a block qualified.

Prior to the qualifiers, the boys were given pre-match sports training.

It included fitness routines based on yoga for flexibility and focus. It was conducted for all participants.

The idea behind the initiative is to empower rural youth through sports. Also, Nal Vidhai has proposed to adopt the villages of each block-level winner for the rural development schemes such as toilet construction, providing drinking water facilities and organising medical camps. Naturally, it’s a double boon for the winning blocks.

To officially kick start the super league, Nal Vidhai felicitated a few outstanding sports personalities for their contributions at the State, national and international level at the CIT grounds recently. Among them were Marsad Suhail and Arun Therambil, Sri Rams Volleyball Academy spikers who have booked tickets for the FIVB men’s junior world volleyball championship in Turkey next year, and M. Srisha, who clinched the gold with a record performance in the all India inter-school shooting championship in Pune last month.

Certificates and cups were also given to the block level winners.

Titled Leadership through Sports, the programme gave a clear picture of the efforts taken by Nal Vidhai to promote both cricket and its various projects.

“It has given us the right opportunity to identify talent and promote the sport in the rural areas. Once identified, we can bring these boys into the official fold and, with it, help them develop the game in a professional manner,” said S. Goudhaman, the CDCA Secretary.

“We have been discussing on this for several years but could never really take off for want of various reasons. Today, we have grabbed upon the opportunity,” said D. Balasubramanian, its Joint Secretary. He asked the boys to get used to matting wickets and cricket balls.

“Only then you can improve the game. Playing with tennis balls will not take you far,” he said and urged them to take part in the CDCA league entry knockout tournament.

“We are ready to encourage you. All the 20 teams can even figure in the knockout tournaments but discipline plays a major role,” said S. Sureshkumar, the other Joint Secretary. Marsad from Kerala took everybody by surprise with his inspiring talk in Tamil.

He also shared his on and off court experiences.

Srisha played her part with a timely tale. And, the crowd applauded.

Anand Purushothaman, CEO of Payoda Technologies, the man behind the show, appreciated CDCA for its no cost training and support. “We will continue with our efforts in the coming years.”

He asked the boys to play local and think global. “And, you can do it through sports.”

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