Story of Strength & Sustenance!
Mountains and forests have been their playgrounds. Adventure has been their way of life as they climbed up...
Mountains and forests have been their playgrounds. Adventure has been their way of life as they climbed up and down treacherous mountainous paths to collect firewood. To travel from village to village for several kilometres (each village 30-50 kms up the hill) or go to their agricultural fields every day.
Tribal women Kanni Bai and Kalpana from Asifabad may belong to extremely backward communities, villages so far from habitation that basic amenities are a luxury, but their spirit is irrepressible. And they have the advantage of natural fitness that comes with their way of living.
These qualities and love for sports made them participate in the adventure competitions held specifically to unearth hidden talent in the remotest corners of Telangana by the Adventure Club of Telangana State (ACTS) in the year 2015 and 2017 respectively. And evidently, they both made it to the selections.
Recently, at the Water Rappelling World Cup, they outdid themselves in one of the most challenging of the adventure sports and are currently training to climb 6,512 km high Mount Bhagirathi in Uttarakhand on the Telangana Formation Day, June 2. After strenuous training by ACTS to walk long distances carrying weights, improve fitness, strength and sustenance required to climb high mountains, they are currently in New Delhi getting ready for the D-Day.
All of 27, Kanni Bai hails from Kerameri mandal from a family of three children – two brothers and mother being the sole surviving parent, studied till Class 12. And began to work with ITDA as CCDP Supervisor in Utnoor. Her work involves travelling to villages and ensuring government funds and schemes reach the tribal people.
"Even as a child, I would climb up and down at least four hillocks to reach our fields. Climbing the steepest of the slopes is easy for us as we travel around 48 kms to reach villages located on the top of the hillocks. And adventure is my second nature," says Kanni Bai. In addition to fitness, she has been a sports lover and used to play games like Kho Kho.
And, when she read a press statement about the adventure club holding events in Adilabad, she enrolled herself and caught the attention of the Club with her performance. This was in 2015. She continued to participate in the events, and recently during the Waterfall Rappelling World Cup 2019 held at Katiki Waterfalls in Araku Valley, she came second. She says, "It makes me very happy to reach so far and make my State proud."
On the other hand, 28-year-old Kalpana from Kolam Kothari chose to get into adventure sports in 2017. She too lost her father as a child, quickly followed by her mother. She has a brother and a sister. She studied till the 11th class and works as Assistant Supervisor. She is a handball player and has been hearing the progress made by Kanni Bai and was excited enough to enrol herself and learn mountain climbing in a more professional manner.
"It is by following Kanni Bai that I am here. Climbing comes naturally to me, however, by being with the club, I was able to participate in events like the recent water rappelling tournament," says the adventure sports enthusiast, who came in the fifth place in the Water Rappelling World Cup.
Kanni Bai was selected in 2015 itself for our mountain climbing expedition, but she could not make it, shares K Ranga Rao founder, director, ACTS. "In addition to their fitness advantage that comes with the way they live and work by going from village to village negotiating hills on a daily basis, they have done extremely well so far in our events, especially the latest World Cup. They have the right attitude to take on the challenge. They will be climbing Mount Bhagirathi along with four others.
"By facilitating such events we want to bring such talented people into focus. We approached ITDA with a proposal to take Kanni Bai and Kalpana on the expedition and the department is sponsoring them. It hopes that other tribal girls and women take them as role models and gain inspiration from the duo," he adds.
Focus and determination and thirst to achieve success – the qualities needed for a sportsperson are what brought Kanni Bai and Kalpana, two tribals from remote villages of Telangana to where they are. "We are not tensed. We know we can do it," they say with confidence that only comes with believing in themselves.