| Members of the Balangir team who participated in the state open badminton championship in Talcher. Picture by Sudeep Kumar Guru
Balangir, Sept. 20: Fighting against all odds, two young boys made Balangir proud by winning titles in the state open badminton championship in Talcher on Sunday.
Abhimanyu Bagarty (12), son of a rickshawpuller in Balangir, won the singles title in the boys mini (under-13) category while Surendra Nepal (14), son of a daily labourer won the mens singles title in the sub-junior category.
Surendra also won the mens doubles title with Chandan Mishra in the sub-junior category, while Abhimanyu teamed with Swarup Ranjan Guru to emerge as runners up in the boys mini double category.
Two others Bikrant Jani who emerged as the runner up in the boys mini singles category and Arabinda Sahu, who was adjudged the best emerging player of the tournament also hailed from Balangir.
Abhimanyu said that he used to play badminton in the streets when Susanta Pradhan of the District Badminton Association (DBA) picked him up after noticing his talent.
I was very young when I developed a passion for games. I used to play badminton with my friends in the streets of our locality. We used bundle of polythene carrybags as shuttle and a flat piece of wood as racket. Susanta dada used to watch me. One day he took me to the DBA office and formally admitted me there, he said.
Abhimanyus father, a rickshawpuller in the town, said that he was exulted at his sons achievements. I knew that he was fond of sports. Since I am a poor ricksha puller, it was not possible for me to meet his requirements. But, I also never knew that my son possessed such talent. I hope that he will do even better in the years to come, he said.
The success story of Surendra Nepal is similar. Son of a daily labourer in an aluminium factory, he never thought that he would play in any state-level tournament. He was picked up by Rajiv Sahu of the DBA who noticed him playing badminton in the streets of the town.
I never thought that I would play in such a tournament and win title. It is like a dream come true for me, he said.
There are many kids in our association who are from very poor families. We try to help them by providing them with playing equipment, tracksuits and shoes. We are very happy that our efforts have paid well as two boys who came from such poor backgrounds have won titles. This is the beginning. We will ensure that they go on to win tournaments at higher levels, said Suru Matari, secretary of the DBA.