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Ananthapuram Sports Village (ASV)

As more and more schools built their sports curriculums with materials made available by RDT, the need was felt for a full-time residential centre which would offer sports training for talented children in a focussed way.

ASV Model

  • ASV: High Performance Academy – Nurtures talented and motivated athletes to succeed at elite levels
  • Development Centres: Regional Centres – Structured support in holistic development of youth
  • Grassroot Centres: ASA Centres – Provides regular and sustainable access to participation in sports

Between 2000 and 2006, infrastructure for various sports like cricket, hockey and football was created. Playgrounds, pavilions, and dormitories came up in this period. Coaches were recruited, residential and non-residential coaching centres for hockey, cricket, football, tennis, judo, softball were added between 2007 and 2015. 2015 also saw the addition of shooting and archery ranges.

By and large, each academy trains 25 – 40 students at a time. New children are admitted after older ones pass out of the programme, either after completing their intermediate, or degree level education. District Administrators, RDT staff members and government teachers form selection committees and the best sporting talent is picked for joining the academy. The academy houses and trains children aged 13 to 18 years. The coaching is residential and the children attend regular schools in the vicinity while they are at the ASV.

Their classroom performance is also monitored closely so that sports and education, both receive equal focus. Children enrolled at ASV receive the benefit of a full nutrition programme incorporating all three daily meals and snacks, and support for their education such as free of cost access to partner schools and colleges.

“To instill a sporting culture at the grassroots by recognizing and utilizing sport as an important and sustainable tool for the holistic development and social integration of all underprivileged and marginalized youth in rural India.”

ASV Vision

Practice sessions are held in the morning and evening and school attendance is mandatory. The academy organises annual events and mass coaching camps during the summer holidays, and special camps during the months of January and October. These are meant to expose children, their parents, and village authorities to the importance of sports and create a more accepting and encouraging community atmosphere from which sports talent can be easily identified and groomed. The centre is open to all students – irrespective of class, caste and gender from Ananthapuram and its surrounding villages up to a 5 km radius. Every year on National Sports Day, parents and children are invited to the academy. They are informed beforehand through press, school bulletin boards and public announcements about the celebration. On the day, different sports stalls related to 8 sports are erected for demonstration and try-outs. Children can try their hand at them, and with their parents’ consent, register on the spot for enrolment to the ASV for training. The Staff are oriented to talk to teachers and parents to support and promote sports participation.

The academy has the following facilities:

  • 1 international standard cricket ground with natural grass supported by 2 practice grounds along with 7 practice nets with clubhouse, media centre and offices.
  • 1 full-sized, natural grass football field with an 8 lane 400m dirt running track.
  • 5 clay tennis courts fitted with flood lights.
  • 2 hockey fields.
  • Judo hall with competition standard training mats.
  • Athletics Track with 4 lanes
  • Gymnasium
  • 16 dormitories (housing 20 students each)

Cricket Academy

RDT’s ASV runs a Cricket programme across the district of Ananthapuram through 14 centers. The main one is the Cricket Academy at Ananthapuram Sports Village (ASV) established in 2004. Initially, the academy catered only to day-scholars, but in 2010, the residential programme was initiated for highly talented and motivated athletes, aiming to succeed at advanced levels. Selection of the qualifying athletes is made from other RDT Cricket centers and Regional Sports centers through a structured Talent ID programme developed by RDT.

Today, ASV supports a total of 70 boys playing at Under-14, Under-16 & Under-19 age groups.

The Cricket Academy has 5 full-time coaches to provide guidance, and besides the ASV, RDT has also established two other centers in Ananthapuram at Atmakur and Bathalapalli in 2011. Atmakur Centre Cricket Programme has 58 youth (8 girls and 50 boys) and Bathalapalli Centre Cricket Programme has 51 youth (all boys). The selection process is managed directly by RDT, where children are selected on the basis of their interest, talent and geography.

Annual rural cricket tournaments are organised regularly at area and central levels to recognise talents of students and players are awarded with trophies and citations. These tournaments have unearthed talented players who have gone on to play for many prestigious tournaments. District, state and South Zone inter-district matches in collaboration with District Cricket Association, ACA inter-zone and the BCCI Ranji Trophy matches are also organised at RDT ASV. Ananthapuram APL league is the rural cricket league that is active throughout the year with weekend practices.

Hockey Academy

RDT’s ASV runs a Hockey programme across the Ananthapuram district through 22 centres. The hockey academy at Ananthapuram Sports Village (ASV) was initially started for boys in 2007 and subsequently for girls in 2010. At present, there are 29 boys and 27 girls who are being given high-performance coaching in the Hockey Academy playing in Under-12, Under-14 & Under-17 age groups, along with education, boarding, lodging and competitive exposure.

The academy features quality infrastructure including two full-sized, gravel hockey grounds, an office space and storage facility with the presence of 2 instructors to coach the students. Among the coached students, at present,572  boys and 229 girls from the schools to which RDT supplies hockey equipment, take part in Hockey tournament.

RDT extends financial and material support to the District Hockey Association to organise State, South Zone and National tournaments such as the annual District Rural Hockey League championship competitions both for girls and boys, and open league championships. Spain-based Hockey club members support RDT’s sports staff in technical coaching. Every year, 15 to 20 club team members visit RDT’s Hockey Academy to extend support in coaching. Mr. Andrew Enrich, a Spanish international hockey player has also voluntarily supported the project to promote hockey in the region every 6 months.

Football Academy

RDT’s ASV runs a Football programme across the district of Ananthapuram through 21 centres. Programmes were initiated for boys in 2004 and for girls in 2008. The football academy at Ananthapuram Sports Village (ASV) was established in 2010 and currently, ASV supports a total of 69 boys playing at Under-11 Under -13, Under-15, Under-18 and Under-20 age groups. Infrastructure includes a full-sized, natural grass football field, 400m dirt running-track and a club house with 4 dressing rooms, 3 office spaces and a storage facility.

About 1296 boys and 184 girls from RDT-adopted schools play football, with coaching support from Spanish clubs during their summer vacations, when local clubs are formed. Every year, the organisation conducts football league championship competitions for boys and girls at Mandal and district levels. RDT also extends material as well as financial support to District Football Association to organise State, South Zone and National level football tournaments.

Judo

RDT’s ASV runs a Judo programme across the district of Ananthapuram through 45 centres. The programmes were initiated in 2005 for both, boys and girls. The Judo academy at Ananthapuram Sports Village (ASV) was established on 30 May 2015 as a Judo Federation of India training centre, with the aim of sending talented village-level Judo students to participate at national and international levels. The Judo committee provided inputs to build The RDT Judo Academy. ASV supports a total of 12 boys and 13 girls playing at Sub-Junior, Junior, Senior and Open age groups. Trained and experienced Judo Coaches from National Institute of Sports (NIS) carry out the trainings. International standard infrastructure includes a Judo hall with competition standard training mats, two separate changing rooms, an office space and storage facility.

Softball

RDT’s ASV started a non-residential coaching centre for softball in 2013, offering daily coaching to 80 boys and girls. It has also started a residential programme under which camps are periodically held and the athletes are provided with a full nutrition programme that includes all three daily meals as well as additional diet aligned to their training needs.

HIGHLIGHTS
 
STAFF SPEAK
 

“Games have always been played by children and there is considerable athletic talent in Ananthapuram. But RDT’s assistance has allowed sports education to take root in many schools in the district. This is the first stage from where new, talented sports persons are identified. The ASV forms the second rung of RDT’s sports education strategy, where talented children, irrespective of social class and caste can come and receive expert guidance. An active physical life in the early years and inculcation of team spirit and equal participation sets off children to success in not just sports, but in their lives also.”

Mr. M. Sreenivas Reddy,
Coach and Ex-State Player, ASV

SUCCESS STORY
 

Meet Hockey Champ Saikiran: The Rickshaw Driver’s Son Aiming For An Olympics Gold:

It takes real courage to keep going when situations clamp down on you at a tender age. It needs a strong will to stand tall when the ground underneath is slippery, strewn with hardships. Here is the story of 21-year-old B. Saikiran who believes that in life you either win or you learn, but you never lose. Such is his spirit.

As a young 13-year-old boy in 2010, Saikiran decided to change his fate and wanted to rescue his family from the circle of poverty. He comes from humble beginnings, from a family supported by his father’s earning as an auto-rickshaw driver. It was difficult to make ends meet. That’s when Saikiran came to the Anantapur Sports Academy(ASA) in Andhra Pradesh, to participate in the hockey summer camp. It was on the recommendation from his school teacher, who noticed his good performance in school tournaments. Little did he know that he would not only impress the coaches with his natural athletic skills but also get selected for the ASA Hockey residential program.

ASA is a sport-for-development initiative by the Rural Development Trust, a non-profit organisation. It benefits close to 8,500 children and youth through its various sports programs, including hockey, cricket, football, Judo, tennis and softball in the drought-prone region of Anantapur. In the 2017-18 season, the hockey program reached out to 801 children (29 % girls and 71% boys) in the district.

After joining the Academy, Sai realised his immense passion for hockey and soon started to take a keen interest in learning and honing his skills. At the academy, the coaches helped him clear his technical doubts, and soon, he mastered his ball controlling skills by training six hours daily on the hockey field. “My favourite skill is to dodge the goalkeeper and hit the goal,” says Saikiran, who considers Major Dhyan Chand, the hockey wizard, his idol. “Saikiran would take chances in the game for his side to score,” says Lakshmi Narayan, Head Coach, about his best player in the Academy.

Apart from regular training, Saikiran considers yearly camps very important. One was conducted by One Million Hockey Legs (OMHL), an initiative by the Dutch hockey legend, Floris Bovelander. Another was Stick for India, an initiative by ex-Spanish internationals Santi Freixa Escude and Andreu Enrich, and it provided him with valuable coaching on various aspects of the game.

Soon his leadership skills and dedication towards hockey allowed him to take up the captaincy of the ASA Hockey team. Further, being the best player in the Bengaluru Hockey League helped him climb up the ladder to represent the Andhra Pradesh State hockey team. After training for eight years in the academy, he had become quite skilled at the sport. His coach Lakshmi Narayana recommended that Saikiran try out at the army selection camp in Hyderabad. Soon after, the results were declared and he was selected as a soldier in the Indian Army in Secunderabad, and represent their hockey team. It was indeed a proud moment for his parents, academy coaches and his friends who had all supported him from the start of his journey!

When asked about his life and training in the army, Saikiran says, “I have made some good bonds with my seniors who are helping me work on my game to perform better. We start our training at 3 AM in the morning [and go on] until 9 AM; and similarly from 4PM to 8 PM in the evening. Our training sessions focus on becoming physically and mentally stronger. I feel proud to serve the nation and I am inching closer to my dream to represent the Indian Hockey team and win gold at the Olympics.” Saikiran is currently focussed on excelling at upcoming competitions for his army team.

Positive stories like that of B. Saikiran prove that the toughest things can be achieved through strong will and hard work. Sports can transform lives if individuals make use of the opportunities provided to them. The need of the hour is to emphasise sports as an important tool for social and holistic development in India, as ASA has already shown.

PARADIGM SHIFT
 

Caste lines in rural India are virtually insurmountable. Innate sporting talent ignores these man-made barriers and an inclusive sports education makes these age-old prejudices irrelevant.

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