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Hinterland kids put it past big city boys

Like anywhere else in mofussil India, there are problems in Panchmahal district of Gujarat -- Godhra town is a part of it -- which affect the mostly tribal populace in a more direct manner. Kaushik Chatterji reports.

sports Updated: Sep 05, 2012 00:04 IST
Kaushik Chatterji

Like anywhere else in mofussil India, there are problems in Panchmahal district of Gujarat -- Godhra town is a part of it -- which affect the mostly tribal populace in a more direct manner.

A set of under-14 boys from that region, representing Gujarat state champions, Piloo Mody High School, were on Tuesday playing their first competitive football match outside their home state. And that made their 2-0 win over Air Force School, New Delhi, all the more creditable in the 53rd Subroto Cup, of which Hindustan Times is an associate sponsor.

"This is the first time that any of these kids have stepped outside Gujarat or, for that matter, seen a train, so we're just happy to be here," said coach Ajay D'Monte. "That we won our first match is a bonus."

Panchmahal - where the residential school is located - is home to Rathwas and Barias, tribals who eke out a living working on farms. Financial problems aside, there's also a disease to worry about. "Sickle-cell anaemia is endemic to the region," says D'Monte. "However, since most of these kids have not been diagnosed with it, we cannot say for certain just who all are afflicted by it. So, we just send them home if they complain of, for instance, joint pain."

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