The Madambakkam Tank Ground is the home turf for many teams in Selaiyur and neighbouring areas that play various games like cricket and football. However, the women’s kabaddi team that practices here everyday, stands out from the others.
According to its coach, T Michael Raj, selections to induct new members are underway and those who are interested, are welcome to take part. “Apart from Kabaddi, we are also planning to start a women’s kho kho team, for which players will be hand-picked. The training will be done free of cost. We will also be conducting the filtering process for the State-level tournament, for which one of the qualifier matches, will be hosted by us,” he noted.
About his work, Michael said ,”I am a native of Kanniyakumari, settled in Madambakkam about 15 years ago. I run a tuition centre here. Instead of just focusing on education, I also stress on the importance of sports and the various quotas which will benefit students. Being a kabaddi player myself, I took the initiative of starting a women’s kabaddi team in 2016. Though I did not get proper training, I ensure that my players receive it.”
When asked about the current status of the game in Selaiyur, he said, “Initially there was not much of a reception, but now my team has close to 20 to 30 players in different categories. They are more energetic, enthusiastic and fit now. But compared to other districts, we still have a long way to go and I am confident that we will improve soon.”
Speaking about the achievements of his team, he stated, “Players from our team represented the Kanchipuram district juniors in the State-level tournament and two others did the same in sub-junior category. As far as education is concerned, they are all good students. Since I run my own tuition, at times I help them with their academics as well.”
The parents of the players too have been understanding and supportive, it is learnt. “They have given full freedom. There is a misconception that people get injured while playing kabaddi. But this can happen in any game and it does not stop people from playing other sports,” he added.
The coach said that the lack of facilities in the locality, has made things difficult for the players. “Even their jerseys are brought from my own earnings. I do not collect fees for training, as I do it purely out of passion. However, the Madambakkam Tank Ground, where we play, has no mat and is poorly illuminated. This makes it difficult to practise in the wee hours. If something is done about this, it would be helpful,” he added. Michael can be reached at 9444849356.