By Tanmay Sakalley
Narayanpur (Chhattisgarh) [India], February 28 (ANI): A Chhattisgarh Armed Force (CAF) constable is providing Mallakhamba training to children in the forests of Abujmarh in Narayanpur district which is hit by the Naxalite violence.
The tribal population is deprived of basic facilities like water and electricity even today.
Overcoming all obstacles, four children from the district had made it to the final round in 2020 for the selection for a 'Mallakhamba' demonstration in the Japan Olympics, which was scheduled to be held last year but was postponed due to COVID-19.
Chhattisgarh Armed Force (CAF) constable Manoj Prasad said he learned Mallakhamba in 2016 and has been training children since then.
"I myself learned Mallkhamba in 2016. From 2016-2017, I started training children of Naxalite strongholds who study in Pota Cabins. All children under my tutelage are tribals who were known as 'Abujh'," he said.
The coach also informed that four children have made it to the final round for a demonstration of Mallakhamba in the Japan Olympics.
"These children have a lot of potentials. All the children here are future Olympiads. With this dream, I started coaching them for free," Prasad said.
People in Narayanapur have not heard of Mallakhamba before. But in only two to three years of practice, the children from the region have defeated many of the country's biggest players in Mallakhamba and won many gold medals. They went to Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Gujarat, Goa, and many other states to participate in Mallakhamba tournaments from 2019 to 2020.
In November 2019, the children won the gold medal by defeating the senior group at the All India level. In March 2020, they won 8 gold, 3 bronze medals, and 4 girls featured in 'Best of Six' in India Under-14.
"It was very difficult to defeat the Mallakhamba practitioners of Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh. Despite not being able to beat them for 40 years, our children had worked hard day and night along with their studies. Now they are number one in India," Prasad said.
Rajesh Korram, a class four student, who hails from Asanar village next to Jungle Orchha, said: "I have been learning Mallakhamba since 2018. I won the gold medal by defeating my senior player. I went to Mumbai for the first time on a train. Life has taken a turn for the better. I want to win a gold medal in Japan Olympics."
Manu Dhruv, another Mallakhamba player, said he won 2 gold medals in Tamil Nadu.
"There is not a good school in our village. These are Naxalite-affected villages. We used to climb trees and play Kabaddi. No one had heard Mallakhamba's name earlier. I started playing Malkhamb in 2017, living in a porta cabin. Initially, I went to play Tamil Nadu and won 2 gold medals there."
11-year-old Sarita Poyam, native to Abujhmarh secured the fourth rank in Mallakhamba at the All India level in the under-14 category in 2020.
"I have the fourth rank in Mallakhamba at the All India level in 2020 in the under-14 category. I, so far, have visited Delhi, Goa, Gujarat and Maharashtra. I want to go ahead and win a gold medal in the Olympics," she said. (ANI)