Hailing from an economically weak family and forced to grapple with challenges of a varied kind including unemployment and disability, thirty-one-year-old Nandhi Raghu of Kerhaada village near here is leading a difficult life.
The second of two children born to casual labourers, he was forced to dropout when he was doing his 12th standard in a local school and to add to his woes, he lost his right forearm in a motorcycle accident when he was working in Coimbatore about six years ago.
The odds notwithstanding, Raghu who belongs to the Badaga community of the Nilgiris starts his day with a smile and ends it with another.
The reason, his passion for football. Pointing out that from an early age he had been fond of the game, he says that being deprived of an arm has not diminished his love for it.
Stating, “the game keeps me going”, he said that every morning he gets up at about 4 a.m. and meditates. Later he gulps down four glasses of water and treks eight kilometres from his village to the Breeks Open Air Stadium here.
He plays football with other soccer enthusiasts till about 8.30 a.m. and takes a bus back to his village.
Averring that he follows the routine to remain healthy, he says that after the accident, his dependence on his teeth, left hand and legs have increased considerably.
With a deep interest in music, he composes Badaga songs. This has helped him figure in programmes organised by a couple of local TV channels. He is trying to get himself featured in a show for differently abled persons introduced recently by a popular private TV channel. Stating that if talent is spotted early and coaching commences from the age of 12, this district can produce very good football players, Raghu who has coached two youngsters says that facilities should be improved in the rural areas.