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From killing field to glittering gold: the quest

Written by: Staff

Bongaigaon, Asom, May 6 (UNI) Living with trigger happy rebels and ethnic rivalry, a group of 80-odd sportspersons are making a silent revolution towards peaceful coexistence in the insurgency prone Bodoland in Asom.

The sight of youngsters in colourful shorts and shirts aiming at bulls' eye armed with bow and arrows, making turf dusty with racquet and tennis ball, hitting balls with hockey stick and then to sparring on a boxing ring near the insurgency-prone Runikhata will surely warm the heart of even the most ruthless of insurgents, who prefer to play with automatic weapons than a hockey stick.

Thanks to coach Gunakanta Wari.

''Our first aim is to foster brotherhood, then to be a disciplinarian and finally to excel,'' said the 40-year-old Wari, the NIS coach who virtually single-handedly runs the Dologami sports centre in Chirang district.

Only a year-and-a-half back, the region was completely dominated by dreaded rebels. But Gunakanta Wari continued his search for talents when no one dared to tread for fear of gun shot.

''This place has seen lot of bloodshed. Today I have Bodo, Adivasi, Nepali and even Assamese students. There is no fear and it is brotherhood all the way,'' he said pointing towards a group of young boys and girls chasing a hockey ball on the field, which they call, turf, whose edges were occupied either by boxers or judokas.

He never bothered about his paltry monthly salary for his quest of sportspersons among the ethnic people of the sports centre which is yet to get any support from the Bodo Autonomous Territorial District (BTAD) authorities and the Asom government.

''My District Sports Officer from Chirang sometime help us and some well wishers contribute. But lack of fund does not come in the way to make sport a safe resort for different ethnic people,'' he said.

For example Buli Basumatary has excelled herself in archery earning gold medal both in senior and junior events in the national level competition. The wins came after practicing with primitive wooden equipment. The armband and box of bows and arrows are all made of hand, improvised or worn out with only a single target to practice. ''See in the Bodoland area, there are natural athletes.

Only you have to guide and they will shine,'' said Wari, happily showing his Judo, Hockey, Boxing, and Handball, Kabaddi, Badminton and even Wrestling classes to this visiting correspondent.

The tennis court may not look like South Club where two Bodo girls were playing. Their forehand and backhand shot were nothing compared to Sania Mirza but the fact was that one could atleast play tennis in this nondescript village at Dologami, thanks to Wari.

''There is no fee. Everything is free of cost. All of them come from very poor family, if I charge fee, no one will come up. My basic intention is to keep them and guide them for future'' he said.

For the future, he was not much worried. ''I have already passed my worst days. Now help will come if we can excel. But I can assure that Bodoland will emerge as the sports powerhouse of North East after Manipur'' he said.

In the recent state-level boxing championship he led a 25-member team and 22 of them earned medals.


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