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Updated: June 14, 2014 08:38 IST

The poster boy of football

J. R. Shridharan
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Durga Rao, who lost both of his hands in a freak accident, plays football with aplomb

He is a die-hard Cristiano Rolando fan and he frenetically prays for the success of the Portuguese in the world’s second biggest sporting event after the Summer Olympics — the FIFA World Cup — that has kick started at Sao Paulo in Brazil on Thursday. He can’t use his hands in his prayers for he lost both of them in a freak accident — 12 years back. Young Durga Rao climbed an electric pole to take possession of a kite that got stuck in the wires. Three were in the race and Rao climbed swiftly to reach the top.

Little did he realised that he was about to have a fall. As he stretched his hands to collect the special spread called ‘manja’ (grinded glass pieces are pasted on the thread to severe the rival kites), used to fly kites, his friend pulled his legs forcing him to cling to the live wires.

In no time he fell on the ground, leading to loss of both of his hands.

With both hands severed, life came to a grinding halt to the bubbly youngster. Thanks to Mr. Noel Harper of Care and Share, a non-government organisation, a new meaning was infused to Durga’s life and football began to play a pivotal role.

His baptism to football was literally by fire as he worked hard to compete with the able-bodied players even though there was an element of discomfort without the free-flow of hands.

“As a striker I have scored more than 50 goals. Though coaches (Johnson and Pandu) and administrators encouraged me I could not go beyond a level,” admits Durga Rao, who has completed Intermediate in CEC with 63 per cent from Andhra Loyola College.

Rao draws the crowd with his mind-boggling juggling and brings the ball all over the body by using his legs in a rhythmic manner, akin to a professional footballer. “He is an entertainer and helps promote the game,” says his coach Pandu. The 21-year-old footballer is trying into get into SRR & CVR College for the degree course as the fee is less in the government college. “My aim is play well and get into the Krishna University team for the all-India inter-university competitions,” says Durga with commitment.

This gutsy youngster is aspiring for a 10-to-five job so that he could play and promote football in the evenings.

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