Every sportsperson is a source of pride for our country, but their journey to the top also depends on the people who work in the background away from the limelight. One such person who has been working with full effort for the betterment of sports is the assistant technical director of Sports Authority of Andhra Pradesh, Mrs Sunkara Venkata Ramana.
Hailing from a small village in East Godavari district, her journey from a basketball player to assistant technical director of SAAP has been quite inspiring and amazing. Here is how the conversation went with her:
What was your first experience with sports?
I started playing basketball in 6th standard after watching one of my seniors play. Her name was T Usha and she even went to play in the senior nationals,
As a woman, what kind of difficulties did you face while playing basketball?
Every girl in our school used to play in her normal school uniform. There was no particular uniform for sports. I used to feel very shy during my tournaments because I was tall and I had to wear shorts.
From a small village in East Godavari district to becoming the assistant technical director of SAAP, your journey has been an unbelievable one. Please tell us about your journey.
After I completed school, I joined as a caretaker in tribal sports hostel. I was working as a caretaker while simultaneously pursuing my B.A degree in Maharaja Mahila College in Visakhapatnam. In my first year, I applied for NIS but I got rejected. I got selected in 2nd year and I completed my NIS degree in Kolkata and after that I came back and completed my B.A. NIS was really tough for me. I still remember that in my first test I got zero because I couldn’t understand English. I used to write letters to my school coach L Venkateshwar and he wrote back in Telugu helping me with my kinesiology and bio mechanics. I even bought dictionaries to help me with English and finally in my last test I managed to get full marks. I joined as a coach in Sports Authority of Andhra Pradesh in 1989. I won the best coach award in the 5th National Games which was held at Imphal in 1999. I got promoted as DSDO officer in 2003 and I became the assistant technical director in 2014.
When you look back at your career, what has been your most memorable moment?
Becoming a coach at SAAP will always be my most memorable moment. I still remember that my first salary at that time was Rs 960.
Who has been the biggest inspiration in your life?
My mother. I have achieved everything in life because of her. She supported me when I used to play basketball. She took care of our entire family; she used to wake up at 5 A.M and sleep at eleven in the night. When I joined Sports Authority of Andhra Pradesh, she looked after my children because I used to be busy from morning to night. Whatever I am, it is because of the moral values which she taught me at a very little age.
What do you think is the importance of sports in society?
I think sports is as important as education. A family which has a sportsperson contributes more to society. In sports, there are a lot of people around you. You meet with new people, you compete with them, you make friends, you learn to share things with them. Sports helps in socializing and it allows more face to face interaction, which I think is something which is missing in society nowadays. I know many kids who don’t play sports and are afraid to interact with anyone.
What are your future plans for Sports Authority of Andhra Pradesh?
We have an amazing sports policy. My aim is to follow this policy. Our main motive is to increase sports participation not only among children, but also among parents and elderly people.
Unfortunately, there are some people in India who do not want their daughters to become a sportsperson. What would you like to say to them?
My mother feels so proud that I am a sportsperson. Each mother in India should encourage their daughters to play because when they will be learning sports, they will be also learning to become a better human being. Being a sportsperson, they will be also handling their families better than a non-sportsperson. I would like to say to each mother to prefer their daughters over boys in matters of sports.
What message would like you to convey to the younger generation of this country?
Whenever I go to any tournament, all I see is chubby boys and chubby girls. Every child from the age of 4 should play something. I would like to say only two things: don’t watch a lot of TV and don’t spend all your time using your mobile. Try to engage in more sports activities.