He is the current national junior carrom champion and he is fine-tuning his skills to add one more national title to his kitty. Straining his nerve at the two-week coaching camp at the IGMC Stadium under the watchful eyes of coach and former national player Abdul Jaleel, this youth is aiming high.

Meet 19-year-old Sk. Elahi, an intermediate student, who is all set to take part in the National Youth Carrom Championship to be held at Varanasi (Uttar Pradesh) later this month. Elahi, who ekes out a living designing glass objects in a mirror workshop at Ongole, wants to reach the heights of the game by representing the country in the international fixtures. “He is young and committed. I see a bright future for him,” felt his coach Jaleel.

For Elahi, the Varanasi tourney is an important one as an overwhelming performance would enable him to get the Petroleum Sports Promotion Board’s scholarship. “This aid (scholarship) will be of great help to Elahi as he is working hard to support this family, apart from pursuing intermediate privately. He will lose Rs.5,000 as he would be off work owing to the on-going camp and the forthcoming tournament. We, at Andhra Carrom Association, donated the sum to his family so that the basic needs can be taken care of. This will also help Elahi to concentrate on his game,” said Jaleel.

He is the second player from Andhra Carrom Association to win a national title after late Dafedar Appa Rao, who won many national titles in the 60s and 70s.

Jaleel felt that Elahi was more inclined to aggressive play and gave little importance to the waiting game. “He wants to go after the coins all the time. Sometimes, a player should resort to a waiting game by assessing the on-board situation properly. He has created flutter by performing a white slam (pocketing all the white coins after the break) in a national event”, said Jaleel. It is a heartening fact that the players from other States have started taking Andhra players seriously owing to their fine exhibition of striking talent. “We were the punching bags earlier. But not anymore,” signs off Elahi with a grin.