FROM OUR CORRESPONDENT
BONGAIGAON, Jan 31: She once hit the bull’s eye regularly at the archery range, making her mark at tiol level and dreaming of sporting glory. A decade has passed by, and she now sells oranges at the roadside for a living. But harsh reality has not dampened her zeal to pass on tips to youngsters taking up the bow.
Meet Buli Basumatary of Chirang, whose journey from being a tiol-level archer to street vendor, echoes the story of many a sportsperson in this cricket-crazy tion who are languishing in poverty, ignored by the government and forgotten by the people. At a time when the Central government is talking about popularizing different sporting disciplines and unearth talent, Basumatary’s tale will offer serious food for thought to some aspirants mulling sports as a career option.
Sunil Basumatary, father of Buli, laments that only a decade back, she was a recognized me in the country’s sporting circles. Buli, a talented archer trained by the Sports Authority of India (SAI), bagged two golds (30-metre event) and one silver (20-metre event) in the tiol sub-junior archery championship held at Ajmer in Rajasthan in 2004.
Thereafter, Buli bagged a gold in the 40-metre event and another silver in the tiol junior archery championship held in Aurangabad. She then moved upwards smoothly to senior level, grabbing a gold in the 50-metre event in the tiol senior archery championship held in Jharkhand. Several prizes came her way in State-level competitions.
But in 2010, due to some physical problems, Buli was compelled to leave the SAI training camp and return home. After a few months she recovered, but was not able to rejoin the training camp.
“We could not afford to buy the expensive bow and arrows. She had to give up practicing at home. Later she got married and there too she could not practice due to her husband’s poor finces. She is now a mother of two, selling oranges at the roadside to feed her family. This is how a sporting talent dies out due to poverty,” said a local sports aficiodo.
Buli can be seen every day by the side of tiol Highway 31 at Samthaibari selling oranges. She has never had any assistance from the government. “Several times I tried getting a job in the army or paramilitary forces, but failed,” she rued.
Although life is a hard grind now, it has not dented Buli’s sporting zeal. These days, she is giving training to four students of Sidli Kachikotra High School. What does she get out of it? Satisfaction, says the former archer.
Local people of Chirang have demanded that the government should have a scheme to support sportspersons like Buli, so that they can focus single-mindedly on training, instead of worrying about where the money will come to keep body and soul together. “If she gets some help to feed her family, she can start practice again and bring more laurels to this region. Age is still on her side,” they said.