His father sells plantains to eke out a living. His younger brother, Nookaraju, quit studies after 10{+t}{+h}standard to work to let him play his favourite sport. That is the story of Doddi Nani Kanaka Venkatesh, the 18-year-old ‘libero’ of the Indian youth volleyball team training here for the Asian championship.

Venkatesh (hailing from Visakhapatnam) is not the only one in this Indian squad who is looking for better things in life. Alakurthi Sandeep of Mahabubnagar is another such young talent. Fortunately, his father, Srinivasulu, is in the Police Department and better off, comparatively.

But, it is the unbridled passion of these two youngsters from A.P. which in a way is also rekindling the hopes of the State, making its impact in a sport in which is less popular.

“They are talented and with hard work and commitment, they can go far,” insist both chief coach Dr. Abhimanyu Singh and his deputy K. V. Ramana (SAI, Vizag).

Sandeep and Venkatesh hope to make it big in the Asian championship, get a decent job and be the bread-earners for their family. “I know what sort of hardship I faced and but for the all out support of my coach Ramana (assistant coach), I would not have reached thus far,” acknowledged Venkatesh, in the State team which was runner-up in the last Junior Nationals. “It is great to be in this camp and we are working really hard,” they say. The duo along with P. Prashanth is in the Indian team from A.P.