In the spotlight Children

She carries the play

From the first glimpse of the game, Bhawani was amazed by the intricacies of hockey.

Bhawani’s face belies the odds she had to overcome to attain success and realise her passion — hockey. Daughter of a daily wage labourer, the 16-year-old made the headlines when she cleared a joint initiative by Sports Authority of India (SAI) and Ministry of Sport (MoS) — the National Hockey Academy (NHA) selection trials — held in June, this year.

A dream is born

Bhawani’s first encounter with hockey was when she was in Std. VI. She accompanied her elder brother to a community playground in her home town, Yelamanchili, 48 km away from Vishakhapatnam in Andhra Pradesh. She was awestruck by the game. From then on, whenever her brother went to play, she did too.

Her keen interest in the game did not go unnoticed. The coach spoke to her parents about the opportunities that would be available for Bhawani as a hockey player. With some coaxing the parents agreed to allow Bhawani to continue playing hockey.

Step forward

Consequently, Bhawani joined a Government Sports School in Karimnagar, nearly 530 km away from her town, only to discover that the school had not included hockey during that year. Disappointed, yet unwilling to give up, she pursued athletics instead.

In 2014, she participated in the trials held by the Anantapur Sports Academy (ASA) for children from underprivileged sections across Andhra Pradesh.. She was selected to be a part of the ASA. This was a turning point.

“I will always be grateful to ASA for the educational and nutritional support, the coaches and people who supported me throughout this journey,” says M. Bhawani who is among the 26 girls who were selected to be a part of the NHA.

Bhawani’s coach, Anilraj Kumar, is all praise for the youngster. “After joining the Academy, Bhawani excelled in her studies and also continued her passion for playing hockey,” he said in an interview. “She would train for six hours and in her three years in ASA, she has never missed a single training session,” he added.

Role models

Ritu Rani, the former captain of the Indian Hockey team and Rajani Etimarapu, the current Indian Women’s team goalkeeper, are her role models.

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Printable version | Jun 4, 2020 5:21:40 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/children/she-carries-the-play/article19523047.ece

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