NTSN seeds Khageshwar Tangulu’s football dreams
From kicking around a football, stuffed polythene in one bag actually, in a remote Odisha village to being picked to represent the State in the National Talent Search and Nurture football competition of the School Sports Promotion Foundation has been an exhilarating journey for 15-year-old Khageshwar Tangulu.
Wearing Jersey No. 7 – like his idol, Argentina star Lionel Messi – Khageshwar has excelled as an attacking midfielder for Ekalavya Modern Residential School, Malkangiri. The 15-year-old scored five goals and engineered two assists in helping his team emerge champion of the district in the NTSN tournament.
There was no electricity, let alone cable and satellite TV in the Badapada village in Kudumulagamma block where Khageshwar grew up. It did not matter that he grew up in a village with less than 1000 people in 154 households. Yet, there was no shortage of passion for football. A 65km shift to the district headquarters has helped him pursue football more intensely.
He now wants to make his mother, who collects firewood and other forest produce in the Khairput Forest Range to make ends meet, and his school proud by expressing himself on the football field. “I know I can do well because I know I am the best in the teams I play for,” he says. “I know I can make my mother proud by playing good football.”
The Tenth Standard student is hungry to showcase his skills at the national level, too. “I am looking forward to representing Odisha in the National tournament,” he says, revealing that the farther he has traveled from Malkangiri is to the State Capital, Bhubaneshwar for a cricket trial. “I was not selected but now I will travel beyond Odisha. I really want to play the best I can.”
And, by all accounts, the entire Malkangiri district is excited about this lad’s progress. Social worker Sankar Khiti, who doubles up as NTSN District Coordinator, believes Khageshwar’s success will encourage many other tribal boys in the district to take up education and balance their dreams in a backward district severely affected by Naxalite presence.
The Malkangiri School’s Principal Umesh Chandra Mohapatra and Physical Education Teacher, Prakash Kumar Patel, have played no mean role in encouraging Khageshwar play football. “He is a natural talent. When he is not in class, he loves to be kicking a football around all the time. The good thing is that he thinks of his team and is a leader on the pitch,” says Patel.