Gone are the days when sports talent came only from urban centres and metros. In the recent past, concerted efforts by sport associations, sports promotion bodies and individuals have helped many an aspiring youngster from smaller towns and tier 2 cities to realise his or her potential. In Karnataka too, many small towns have become the focal point of sport development.
One such town is Mandya, which used to be better known for its sugarcane plantation and sugar factories. This growing town on the Bengaluru-Mysore Highway has been transformed into a major educational and sports hub. Sports have always been popular in Mandya, with sports such as volleyball, kabaddi and football finding many takers. The sprawling M.V. Stadium, has hosted many national events in the past. The PET Sports Complex, built by Chowdaiah of the People’s Education Trust too has provided a major impetus for sports in Mandya. The PET complex has well-built indoor badminton courts, a cricket ground, synthetic tennis courts and a short course swimming pool, where regular tournaments are held.
The Bengaluru based sports promotion unit, Tenvic Sports conducted a series of tennis and badminton camps. “Taking sports training to tier 2 cities have been one of the major objectives of our outreach programme and they could be nursery for sporting and grooming exceptional talent in districts,” says Vasanth Bharadwaj, co-founder of Tenvic.
The camps were supervised by local coaches and professionals from Bengaluru. According to tennis coach, Manjunath, there are 60 trainees in his camp and quite a few of them, such as Nanditha and Tanushree have made their mark in State-level tournaments. They were the members of the State team, which participated in National women’s tournament in Bihar, having been runners-up in the qualifying team event in Chitadurga. Tanushree also represents Mysore University tennis team.
In badminton, there are 50 trainees and two youngsters, K. Santhas and Tejas, figure in State rankings in the under-13 and under-15 categories respectively, according to coach Yeshwanth. The coaches claim that there were just a handful of players in tennis and badminton few years ago, but with the start of training camps, the numbers have soared and that augurs well for Mandya.