Tribune News Service
Hisar, March 14
Haryanavi sportspersons are famous as wrestlers and boxers, but many young sportspersons from the state, with a bow and arrow in their hands, have set their sights on gold in a different sport.
Archery is not the conventional sport of Haryanavis. However, 80 young archers practising at the archery range in Umra village of the district, under the watchful eye of coach Manjeet Malik, dream of achieving glory in archery.
Malik says archery is an obsession for him, not a profession. “I train players free of cost but the players have to procure their own equipment,” he said. He said earlier the state government used to award substantial prize money for the medallists in even the sub-junior and junior level, and the children could use this money to purchase equipment. “But these categories are not getting enough promotion now,” he said. A wooden kit costs around 6,000 while a good quality bow costs in the range of Rs 3-4 lakh.
This archery academy at the outskirts of the village has eight international and 70 national level archers who have displayed great potential. A trainee at the academy, Akash Malik, then 15, won a silver medal in the Youth Olympics in Buenos Aires in 2018. Several young hopefuls at the academy are dreaming of qualifying for this year’s Tokyo Olympics.
Coach Malik, 47, started imparting archery training in the village way back in 2008. “There were few takers for it in the beginning,” he said. Umra, like any other Haryanavi village, is full of wrestlers, kabaddi and hockey players. However, after 12 years of hard work, Malik has made Umra an archery powerhouse.
Malik said 13 archers from the academy are getting a scholarship under the Khelo India programme, including three girls who bagged gold medals in the Khelo India University Games. Students of the Guru Jambheshwar University of Science and Technology (GJUST) also train with Malik. He said the Sports Authority of India has planned to set up an academy here. This would help the young archers get funding for equipment and diet, besides coaching.
Malik himself was a hockey player, like his brother and coach Azad Malik. He was attracted to archery during a sports diploma course at Nagpur University. “In 2008, I started coaching with two players! It was difficult to convince the village people to send their children to my ground,” he said. “But gradually, boys and girls started trickling in... Now, four of the players who trained here have got jobs on the basis of their archery achievements.”
“Haryana has emerged as a high potential centre of archery, which has left the Tata academy in Jamshedpur behind,” said Pramod Chandurkar, secretary general of the Archery Association of India. “Besides Umra, Rohtak and Sonepat are also good centres of archery with around 1,000 archers practising in the state.”
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