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Master of the game

AVINASH NAIR
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KABBADI Mani Master, the man behind the success of the Youngsters Kabbadi Club talks about the sport and his team

To sir with loveB. K. Shivram, president of the club with Mani, who coached himPhoto: Murali Kumar K.
To sir with loveB. K. Shivram, president of the club with Mani, who coached himPhoto: Murali Kumar K.

He is fondly called Mani Master. When he expressed his intention of adding two floors to his ground floor house, his students, many of them in high ranking jobs now, chipped in to make his dream a reality.

Mani, the unassuming Master at the Youngsters Kabaddi Club joined as an NDS instructor at the Corporation School, Kodandaramapuram in Malleswaram in 1964.

He spread his passion for kabaddi and ensured that what Austin Town and Murphy Town or Jogupalya is to football and Kodagu is to hockey in the State, the Youngsters Club was to kabaddi.

The Corporation School teams have reigned supreme at the City and state levels, winning every title at stake in that level. “We had teams that loved to dominante- both in boys and girls sections,” says the 71- year-old, who retired in 2000 as Asst. Youth Services and Sports Officer.

Mani was a proficient kabaddi player and has represented the state at more than five nationals. He was also part of the silver-winning Karnataka team at the Salem nationals in ’73. He formed the Youngsters Kabaddi Club to tap the energy and enthusiasm of the youngsters near his school in 1965. “There was an empty ground. We took permission to use the area for our training. I used to see many boys wasting their time smoking their days away without any activities. I took them into my fold and trained them. I used to forgo my regular meals and ate bread and pickle with the boys,” recalls Mani.

Soon the boys swore by their teacher and played hard. “We have attained success because of Mani Master. He stopped us from going astray and taught us to utilise our skills and physique into action. This helped us in our lives, ” recollects Chinnuswamy Reddy, one of his students.

The Youngsters Kabaddi Club soon gained recognition and reputation. “Nearly 54 players from this club have gone on to represent the State at the nationals with a couple of them winning State Kempe Gowda awards. Venkatesh bagged the Ekalavya award bestowed upon top sportsmen/ women in the State. Chinnuswamy Reddy and Y Kupparaju were part of the kabaddi team which was a demonstration sport at the New Delhi Asian Games in 1982,” he says.

“During many State-level tournaments, the A and B teams from the club contested the finals. People flocked to watch the Youngsters Club play Kanaka- Nayaka Club in Jayanagar. The galleries used to be packed like sardines,” says a former amateur kabaddi player.

“The competition was not only in the playing arena. The two clubs also vied to host major tournaments with Youngsters conducting about three All India FM Khan and N Gundu Rao Gold Cup tournaments in the 70’s and 80’s,” adds Shashipriya, a kabaddi enthusiast.

Many stalwarts in the sport came through the Youngsters Clubs stables such as the late BeeYar, Shivkumar and ‘left corner’ Narayan, Muniratnam who did the State and country proud.

Today the Club is looking at registering as Youngsters Sports Club and bringing more sports into its fold. “Six years ago, we constructed galleries, with the support of the local corporator and MLA. We plan to add more amenities such as permanent floodlighting, multi purpose gym and also an indoor facilities,” says B.K. Shivram, the current president of the club and a former trainee of Mani Master. The club was the nursery from where players were churned out in large numbers. Government and public enterprises such as HMT, BEL and ITI would recruit to form formidable outfits of their own at state and national events.

Youngsters hosted the inaugural leg of the recently-concluded maiden Karnataka Volleyball League (KVL) at its ground .

“We will be conducting major kabaddi and volleyball championships as part of our golden jubilee celebrations in 2015 and this event is part of those plans,” says Mani

AVINASH NAIR

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