With 7,000 archers, Maharashtra shoots for archery dominance
Pramod Chandurkar, coach of the Indian archery team opens up about the challenges to the growth of the sport in the state.pune Updated: Apr 09, 2018 19:04 IST
Maharashtra archers are putting up an excellent performance at the ongoing National Archery Championship in Pune. But, according to Pramod Chandurkar, Archery Association of India’s joint secretary and secretary, Maharashtra Archery Association, it is important to improve on existing systems and training methods if the state has to produce archers capable of winning medals at the Asian games and Olympics.
Chandurkar, who was a top archer himself, had participated in the 1976 National Games and the 1982 Asian Games. He has been the coach of the Indian archery team for 12 years and also owns a business, manufacturing archery equipment. Ashish Phadnis shot the archery veteran a few questions at the ongoing championship at Ghorpadi.
How is Maharashtra performing at the national level as compared to other states?
If you look at the results from the past four years, it is clear that our archers have dominated national tournaments. They consistently put up top performances and are even playing at the international level and winning medals. Recently, Jalna’s Mrinal Hivarane won a bronze medal in the Philippines while in January Sumit Mohol won gold in Khelo India, New Delhi. Despite these positive performances, the ultimate goal is to win medals at the Asian games and carry forward that performance into the Olympics.
What is archery association’s role in promoting archery in the state?
Our first agenda was to create a large player base, so we introduced archery in every district in Maharashtra. Twenty nine districts are now active and affiliated to the state association. We also began working with institutions like the Maharashtra police and Railways, allowing our archers an opportunity to find a place in these organisations and get access to better training facilities.
We also focus on training coaches. Several seminars and workshops were conducted in order to keep up with modern techniques in the sport. State and national tournaments were organised to train technical officials, judges and referees along with organisation programmes which were held all over the state.
As a result of our efforts, we now have around 7,000 archers in Maharashtra, which is huge as compared to other states. No other state can match this number.
The next step is to broaden our efforts and introduce archery to every taluka and village. We didn’t do that earlier because archery is an expensive sport. With enough resources, we can focus on popularising the sport and making sure we have a pool of quality archers.
Despite such a large pool of archers, why is it that archers from the state cannot match top Indian archers like Deepika Kumari or Atanu Das?
It is true that we are yet to reach that level. But I am sure, if we maintain our efforts, within the next two to three years, Maharashtra will have archers who can compete with Jharkhand, which is considered the archery hub of the country. One needs to be patient as it will take time to get results.
Adequate infrastructure and training facilities are a concern for many sports in the country. Does the state have enough infrastructure to accommodate such a large number of archers?
Archery doesn’t require a lot of infrastructure. Archers can train on flat land with just a bow and an arrow. Sumit Mohol, whom I mentioned earlier, trains alone on his farm. That’s the beauty of the sport. Personally, I believe that whatever infrastructure is available is sufficient.
We are like a feeder agency. Our job is to take an archer to the national level and help them find a place in the Indian team. Once they make the team, they receive all the facilities, advanced training, diet, infrastructure and whatever else is necessary to compete at the international level. Our job is not to take them to the Olympics. We don’t have the strength or the resources to do that. Units like Services, Railways, Police or the Petroleum Board have access to enough money to give their players all the necessary facilities. That’s not the case with Maharashtra, but if the archers prove themselves, they will find the facilities waiting for them.