Raipur (Chhattisgarh) [India], September 24 (ANI): Chhattisgarh's insurgency-hit Bijapur district which is often in the news for incidents such as IED blasts, ambushes, encounters, and other naxal-related activities, is undergoing a remarkable transformation in the realm of sports. Two teenagers from the district have had the honor of representing India in softball tournaments held in Japan and China. Bringing recognition to the naxal-hit Bijapur district, two players (including women's category of under-18) have represented the country in softball in Japan and China. Recently, Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel felicitated Rakesh Kadati and Renuka Tillam, the two players, during his recent visit to Bijapur.
Both the international players attributed the credit of their success to their coach and family.Speaking to ANI, Rakesh Kadati said, "My father was tragically killed by Naxals when I was very young, and my mother passed away due to health complications. After mother's death, CRPF personnel entrusted him to a child home operated by the Tomorrow Foundation, where I discovered his passion for softball."Currently, the international player is studying in class 9 and had represented the team in Japan. Apart from Japan, the international player has represented the team in Punjab, Indore, Bhubaneswar, Chandigarh, Cuttack, Jharkhand and Madhya Pradesh.
Mentioning about his journey, Kadati said that initially, he faced difficulties in communicating with his teammates, but over time, he has learned how to interact effectively with others. Encouraging the youth in the insurgency-affected region, he urged players to believe in themselves, work hard, and strive for progress. Kadati also expressed his commitment to continuing in the sport, drawing inspiration from his coach.
He further said that with inspiration from his coach, he will keep playing the game.Another international player Renuka Tellam, a resident of the restive Awapalli area in the district, said that she has been playing softball since 2017 and got the opportunity to participate in eight national events in Punjab, Rajasthan, Odisha, Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh.
Moreover, she had recently taken part in an international event in China.
"Operated through DMF, the Bijapur sports academy is providing training to around 400 players through 11 coaches. Of total players, three players of softball (including two junior and one senior player) recently participated in the Asia Cup held in Japan while two girls got the opportunity of participating in the sporting event in China recently," Bijapur Collector Rajendra Kumar Katara said."The achievement of these players is motivating others in the district, said the Collector Katara, adding that coaches in the academy are also working hard to sharpen the skills of players. "The facilities of sports, including swimming, badminton, softball, football, Kabaddi, volleyball and judo are available in Bijapur which was once known for naxalism," Collector said.
Established in 2017 with the support of the district administration, the sports academy is playing a crucial role in fostering sporting talent among the children of Bastar region. According to the head coach of softball, Sopan Karnewal, the children from Bastar are naturally strong, and with proper guidance, they can showcase their abilities.