Rowing towards success

Staff Reporter

An autonomous boat club has been set up at Ramankary which brings together more than 40 small and big boat clubs in the region.

ALAPPUZHA: The season of boat race is over, but it has not stopped lovers of the sport in Kuttanad from coming together with the aim of regaining the region’s lost glory in the regatta.

Several boat clubs and associations have decided to work hard under a single umbrella to reclaim the Nehru Trophy. As a first step towards this endeavour, they gathered at Ramankary, near here, on Saturday to set up the Swashraya Boat Club (SBC), (‘autonomous boat club’). The movement, spearheaded by the Kuttanad Vikasana Samithi (KVS), brings together more than 40 small and big boat clubs in the region that have been participating in the popular races held during August and September.“Kuttanad, which used to reign in the boat races in Kerala, is now struggling to deliver an inspiring performance and claim a trophy,” K.V.S. executive director and SBC president Fr. Thomas Peelianickal told The-Hindu. One of the major reasons for the setback in the sport has been the lack of unity, he said. “Training for the events begins only a week or two before the race. What we are looking at is a movement that will ensure a year-long training programme.” The federation hopes to ensure the status assured by the Government to those associated with the sport.

The SBC, the State’s first ever autonomous boat race club, plans to train at least 150 oarsmen, all handpicked from various boat clubs in the region. The training sessions would focus on the history, culture and spirit of boat races in Kuttanad. The club will also organise boat races throughout the year.

“We hope to regain the unity, spirit and enthusiasm that once ensured that Kuttanad always had at least one representative in the list of winners,” Fr. Peelianickal said.

The club, on the lookout for a boat, plans to approach the Union Government and boat race lovers in India and abroad for financial support. The ultimate goal, Fr. Peelianickal adds, is winning the Nehru Trophy.

Actor Nedumudi Venu, one of the patrons,inaugurated the club on Saturday. The other patrons are MLAs Thomas Chandy, K.C. Venugopal and K.K. Shaju.

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