When Sonny Saravanan, my partner from Tamilnadu Village Outreach, and I went to inspect the finished electrical remodeling of the Anandapuram Community Center we were met by the informal so-called young men’s Youth Group of the village. They were very grateful for the work we had done to make their village community center useable again after so many years of neglect and were very appreciative of the professional quality of the rewiring, the high levels of lighting and the three high quality fans that we had installed.
As is quite common in the villages where SAVE-INTL is active, there is a youth volleyball team in Anandapuram, and it is our policy to support these teams with free volleyballs and nets when requested. The Anandapuram Youth Group asked me for some help with a new net and some volleyballs, as they had none, and I remarked that there was already a good net strung up on their steel volleyball net standards in front of the community center and wondered why they needed another one. They explained that the net I was looking at actually belonged to another village and that their own net was badly damaged. I asked that it be brought out. While the net was in bad shape, I said that it could be used as a practice net with the purchase of some fishermen’s string and rope and a little work but that we would immediately provide them with some quality volleyballs which I had in my office in Mamallapuram. A committee from the Anandapuram Youth Group soon came to see me in Mamallapuram just before my departure for a two month trip outside India.We gave them a couple of quality branded volleyballs (see photo) and I promised on my return to provide them with a tournament quality net. They then told me the following story which I feel is illustrative of the problems faced by India’s Amateur Sports Groups.
Their village fielded a youth volleyball team two years ago which participated in a Tamilnadu State-wide tournament of villages. In their own District of Kanchipuram, which has a population of over two million, they managed to attain the rank of SECOND best volleyball team, despite the small size of their village of just 274 inhabitants, and a handful of young men.
This is a truly remarkable achievement for a poor rural Dalit village, yet no Gov’t Sports Authority, Private Business or NGO has seen fit to help (at least to date) them continue to pursue their excellence by supporting them with volleyballs or nets.
I promised to help them with volleyball equipment as long as they continued to aspire to be the BEST village volleyball team in Tamilnadu. They also asked for uniforms/jerseys for their team, a request I promised to consider.