Chennai boy fights odds to be U-18 rugby captain

Chennai: B Manikandan (17) from Thiruvanmaiyur in the city can be called as the player who makes heads turn at any given rugby tournament.

The current captain of the State sub-junior team, he headed the U-14 team as well and ensured that it won the gold at the National-level.

So what makes this youngster special? ‘News Today’ finds out.

A student of Thiruvanmiyur Corporation School, Manikandan is said to have lost both his parents in a span of five years. He now lives with his sister.

According to his coach Arul Venkatesan, “He has all the qualities to become a captain. He takes good decisions and speaks to everyone well. Sometimes he comes without eating food in the morning and leaves for school from here. He doesn’t eat because his sister too leaves for work in the morning and there is no one to help him. But now, I make sure that he does not skip meals.”

The game, Arul says, is a diversion for the lad who has faced several setbacks in his personal life.

“My coach has trained me well. I want to scale higher and learn more about the game. I have sponsors who helped me buy boots and a jersey and have even paid my academic fees,” says Manikandan.

When asked about how the game changed his life, he states, “I have respect in my school and people recognise me. This makes my family happy.”

Noting that Rugby requires fitness, energy and speed, he says that he wishes to take it up at a professional level and is looking forward to sponsors who can support him.

His coach Arul can be reached at 98848 38767.