ANI Photo | Youths from unsurveyed Abujhmad in naxal-hit Narayanpur shining as footballers

Youths from unsurveyed Abujhmad, the area that is being considered a stronghold of naxals in the worst insurgency-hit Narayanpur district in Chhattisgarh, are all set to shine, shock and motivate several others with their football skills during a tournament being hosted by Ramkrishna Mission Ashram here in the name of Swami Vivekananda.
The national-level tournament is not just special because it is being organised here in the naxal-infested Narayanpur district instead, the football event is in the limelight as a majority of players representing Chhattisgarh’s squad are from the unsurveyed Abujhmad area.
This championship may open the door for several others in the insurgency-hit Bastar division to pursue football as their career because players of Ramkrishna Mission are being contacted by prominent clubs and if everything goes well, they could get an opportunity to get training on foreign land.
Speaking to ANI, Swami Krishnamritananda (Asim Maharaj) informed that the tournament is Swami Vivekananda under-20 national football championship and an announcement regarding the tourney was made by All India Football Federation on February 29.
“As Swami Vivekananda had stated, by playing football, one can come close to almighty because a weak person cannot understand the essence of ‘Bhagwat Geeta’. To understand Geeta, a person must have strength like a football player. Since, Swami ji had mentioned the importance of football, we wanted to host the tournament dedicated to him,” the swami added.
“For hosting this championship, we contacted several clubs, including Mohun Bagan, East Bengal, Chennai FC and Bangalore FC,” said Krishnamritananda, adding that states and union territories across the country are participating in the tournament.
Krishnamritananda revealed that the final match scheduled to take place on May 22 will mark the presence of Kalyan Chaubey, president of the All India Football Federation (AIFF) and former player of the Indian team.
Sharing details about the players of Chhattisgarh’s squad, Krishnamritananda informed that based on the trials held here recently, 25 players have been selected for the main team and 10 for reserve. Of the 35 selected players, the majority hail from Narayanpur and the reason for this is the presence of the mission here. Major numbers of players selected for the team are from Abujhmad area and they have immense potential as well as quality. Of the 10-11 players selected for the tournament, 7-8 players belong to the core area of Abujhmad, which still lacks several basic facilities.
One among these players is a victim of naxalism, said the Krishnamritananda, elaborating that the father of a selected player was murdered by naxals in December last year.
Hinting that football is playing a significant role in bringing about a major transformation in the region, Krishnamritananda said that a youth identified as Suresh Kumar Dhruv from the very interior village of Gattakal under the Abujhmad area is leading the Ashram team in the Chhattisgarh league and also played for India in the under-18 Asia Cup.
This championship is motivating several kids, teens and youths, he claimed.
“I have been residing here at the ashram since childhood and got the opportunity to bag several accolades as well as learn various things about the game. Apart from national events, I have played the Asian Games,” said player Suresh Dhruv.
Manish Kumar Kowachi, a resident of Kohkameta in the Abujhmad area, informed that he has been in the ashram for 13 years and studied here. Around 10 players are selected from Narayanpur district.
“The children here have massive potential and they are just lacking in terms of exposure,” said football coach Ranjan Chowdhary at the ashram, who also gave training to prominent Indian players.
“I can promise that in the coming four years, a better system here and this (ashram) will become a place for the production of football players as well as athletes of other games at the national level. My brother, Anjan Choudhary, is associated with Arsenal and has also coached the Indian team. He has promised to help players (with extraordinary gaming skills) get training in foreign land. However, we are not so mature, but on the path of attaining maturity,” the coach added.

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