Backed by a strong sports tradition, these two colleges have won many laurels. S.R. Suryanarayanan on how they developed into champions in campus sports
Talk of sports traditions and the two colleges that immediately spring to mind are Loyola College and MOP Vaishnav College for Women. Both these institutions have had an outstanding history as the leading men’s and women’s forces in the field of sports.
There was a time, in the not too distant past, when sports rivalry in the city at the college-level often boiled down to the performance in the A. L. Mudaliar Athletics Meet of the Madras University.The meet is held in the memory of a great educationist and one of the long serving Vice Chancellors of Madras University Sir A. Lakshmanaswami Mudaliar. The event happened to be the forum for all city colleges, men and women, to exhibit talent.
Yet when it came to the final moments of this meet it would normally be the rivalry of one or two colleges in either section. If it was Loyola vs. Madras Christian College on one side then it would be Stella Maris vs. Ethiraj on the distaff side. That set the tone of the sports competitions in the city.
Over the years the equations have changed but what remained constant was the redoubtable position of Loyola even as MOP emerged as the best bet among women’s colleges. In the last decade and more, both these colleges have been the regular recipients of the Sivanthi Adityan Trophy, the symbol of supremacy in sports in the city. Both these colleges have been able to raise the most number of players in the zonal and inter-zonal competitions representing Madras University, and this is a story that keeps repeating year after year.
What has helped Loyola and MOP achieve this exalted position? Perhaps facilities and yes, scholarships but more than anything, it has to do with tradition. As Loyola’s Physical Education Director Vijayakumar puts it, “We work overtime to keep a strong junior talent in reserve through our judicious selection policy. We do not exactly pitch for outstanding talent but come somewhere close to that so that we can mould them through expert coaching. We motivate them with scholarship, free education, free board and lodging. Once we have a strong base, then building teams becomes that much easier. The college management also ensures all encouragement is given to these sportspersons to help them bring laurels for themselves and the college,” he said, while adding that in the last decade nearly sixty to seventy sportspersons have gone on to represent the country in various disciplines. Not much different is MOP’s experience. In fact, the success story is even more creditable considering MOP does not have much to speak of in the form of a ground but as Principal Dr. Nirmala Prasad says, “there is no restraint when there is a will to excel.”
Like Loyola, the focus was on getting the best talent, from all parts of the state and outside, give encouragement and see the fruits unfolding. With around 60 students who have gone on to represent India, MOP’s achievements in the field of sports form a rich saga. There are signs that their success stories are likely to continue.