Narendrapur: For over a century, encouraging and supporting sports has been part of Tata Steel’s tradition. While nurturing players at its sporting academies for hockey, football and archery, the steel major has been promoting several other sports across its operational locations. Carrying forward this legacy, Tata Steel Meramandali (TSM) has been mentoring young volleyball players around its operational areas in Narendrapur, Dhenkanal.
Two of the players trained by TSM, Akash Patra and Subrat Behera, from Raghunathpur and Khaliberena villages respectively, have been selected to the Odisha State Volleyball Team. They represented the state in the recently concluded 24th National Youth Volleyball Championship held at Islampur, Maharashtra from May 10-15, 2022.
Speaking of the success of the players, Ashutosh Patra, who has been engaged by TSM as the coach for the players, said, “It was a challenging task to bring these young talented players to the level they are at right now. Earlier, they were playing during their leisure time in regions without the necessary sporting infrastructure. Since the initiative began in June 2019, they have remained motivated to take up sport and fitness seriously. I see great potential in these players.”
Thanking TSM for their support, Behera said: “It was a great experience for me to play for Odisha and the national level. My hard work and constant guidance by our coach made it possible. I thank Tata Steel Meramandali for all their assistance.”
Asish Bhutia another bright young talent coached and mentored by Tata Steel Meramandali represented Odisha in National Volleyball Championship held at Rudrapur, Uttarakhand in April 2022. Besides this, many other players from the region who have been supported by TSM have gone on to participate at district and state level tournaments and championships.
During the weekend sports volleyball tournament, Bhubaneswar zone, which was concluded on May 16, 2022, the U14 Boys mentored and coached by Tata Steel Meramandali emerged as Champion organised by Department of Sports and Youth Services, Government of Odisha.
Players from 15 peripheral villages from six Gram Panchayats such as Mangalpur, Nuahata, Nuagaon, Shibapur, Paik Purunakote and Kusupanga around TSM’s operational area have been trained by Ashutosh Patra, a national level coach, since June 2019. There are around 580 male and 70 female enthusiastic volleyball players who are actively participating in training and fitness programmes. TSM has provided the required infrastructure to support their aspirations, including sports equipment, volleyball courts and a dedicated coach in Ashutosh Patra, to promote volleyball in the region. All these players are being coached for junior, sub-junior and senior categories.
Earlier, due to a lack of proper infrastructure, the players were facing difficulty to play after sunset. TSM has developed two solar powered volleyball courts in Khaliberana and Mangalpur villages, helping the players practise unhindered. Volleyball is gradually transforming the rural sports landscape in the region, with the promise of promoting local sporting talent.