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Khalleda school: churning out champion archers

V.V. Subrahmanyam

Trainees are provided with Olympic standard equipment, each set costing Rs. 8,000



NURTURING TALENT: Archery coach Prabir Das with his wards during a training session at the Khalleda school.

WARANGAL: Khalleda Rural School in Parvathagiri mandal, 40 km away from Warangal and made famous by its student Vardhineni Pranitha, silver medallist in the World Cup Archery Chapionship in Mexico early this week, can well stand as a perfect example of how an individual's pursuit and indefatigable spirit can transform the inherent talent in rural areas into medallists at the highest level.

The smile on the faces of E. Ram Mohan Rao of Rural Development Foundation and coach Prabhir Das, himself a former national champion, say it all. For over the last few years, these two have scripted what could well be the redefining chapter in the Andhra sports — to produce champions.

Scouting for talent

Prabhir Das, who also coached the more famous Dola Banerjee, scouts for talent in the adjoining villages of Annaram, Parvathagiri and Rauuru Tanda and picks up not more than 15 boys and girls below 14 years every year to train them. They train on the school premises, located in a huge bungalow of Ram Mohan Rao's ancestors.

The trainees grapple with the basics out in the open with a single target board. But they possess Olympic standard equipment (bow and arrow), each set costing Rs. 80,000.

"This is what we asked Ram Mohan Sir and we are grateful to him for arranging them," says Prabhir Das, who shifted base from Bengal along with his wife and coach Jaya Das. Interestingly, Khalleda School with 563 students has a near cent per cent record in academics even while the focus is on archery (and no other sport) during the leisure time. Prabhir Das is not surprised by Pranitha's achievement given her talent and commitment.

"I can confidently say that there are a few more in this group like Sofia Naz, Rajitha, Prasanna Kumar, Vemunuri Raju and Sarada who can emulate her," he says and is confident of his wards bagging medals in the Senior Nationals next month.

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