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A fair blend of talent and hope

Footballers, cyclists and even a cricket coach made up the men's and women's Indian teams at the 8-Nation Invitational Lawn Bowls event that concluded here on Saturday.

other Updated: Apr 10, 2010 23:27 IST
Siddhanth Aney

Footballers, cyclists and even a cricket coach made up the men's and women's Indian teams at the 8-Nation Invitational Lawn Bowls event that concluded here on Saturday.

Dinesh Kumar, who represented India in the men's Triples category here, said football was his main sport. After years in the game, he realised the futility of his efforts. Chances of selection even at the state level were low. He took to bowls by chance, because his friends used to play and in three years he is representing India, and will play in the Commonwealth Games.

Pinki Kaushik is a cricket coach at Delhi Public School, RK Puram. She was tasked with translating English to Hindi and helping out the current Indian coach (Aussie Richard Gale) when he held a clinic in the school to test Indian waters. The next thing she knew, she was at the National Games, and picked up a gold and two bronze at the Asian level. She has been playing the sport for all of three years.

Gale took charge as coach 15 months ago, and according to him the progress has been astounding. He says, “It's a great sport for Indians because it is a one-on-one sport that needs concentration, judgement and good mathematical abilities, all of which Indians have.” He also says the medal chances are very real. The women won India's first gold at the Asian Championships last year. Gale says, “I guarantee a medal, if not in 2010 CWG, then in 2014 for sure.

The only thing I cannot guarantee is the colour. The women's Triples team have the best shot this year. Competition among the men is tougher, so it will take more time.”

The sport is growing. Apart from the five greens at Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium (rated the world’s best synthetic facility), two more are being built at the Yamuna Sports Complex. DPS (RK Puram) has greens that are actively used by students. Since making National Games debut, facilities have been developed at Ranchi and Guwahati, leading to a number of Jharkhand and Assam players representing India.

The Federation is reliant on the Sports Ministry for funding, and desperately looking for sponsors. Sunaina Kumari, president of the Bowling Federation of India, wants to pull in corporates, rent out the greens at the Nehru Stadium to them for team-building exercises and tournaments, and pitch it as a recreational option. “If it takes off, the revenue will help us take care of the players,” she said.

On the final day, Malaysia and England bagged the most gold. The Malaysians won both the men’s and women’s singles, beating New Zealand and Australia respectively. The South African ladies picked up a gold beating Australia in the Pairs final, while NZ got the better of their Aussie rivals.