Animela Chandrika was born in Jalalpuram, a tiny hamlet 43 kilometres away from Anantapur, in 2004, into a family of four. Her father was a shepherd and her mother a daily wage labourer, together they struggled to make their ends meet. Chandrika was just like all the other girls in her village, going to school, playing with her friends and sister. But, she always had a dream to succeed in life and started to look for opportunities. And the opportunity knocked on her door in the form of Softball.
At the age of 11, Chandrika was introduced to Softball at her school, Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidyalayam in Bathalapalli, where the program was supported by Anantapur Sports Academy (ASA), a sport for development initiative in Anantapur. Within a year Chandrika had topped the list, her hard work got her selected for the District Softball Camp at ASA’s sports village.
During the coaching camps, she was trained by qualified coaches and was supported with sporting materials and infrastructure, just the way ASA supports 11,136 young people across the Anantapur district. Chandrika occupies the first base position in Softball; having practised regularly, her game developed at a steady pace. Her hard work found her a prominent place in the district team and soon she became an integral and important part of the state team.
As her performance improved manifold, she was selected to play Under 13 National Level Softball Competition in Nagpur, when she was in the 7th standard. That was the first time she ever left her home town—recollecting the experience Chandrika said, “I still remember, that was the first time I ever sat in a train, till then I only saw a train on the TV…”
Her game took her to heights, as her performance at the national level competitions attracted the selectors. From that point, there was no turning back. Back in Anantapur, she regularly trains at ASA facilities and coach, Obulesu, working in ASA acknowledges her progress and says: “She is very natural at the game, all she needed was proper coaching and access to quality infrastructure. Through regular coaching camps at ASA, we provided her a stage to showcase her talent and fulfilled her requirements, her passion, commitment, and hard work paved her way to international opportunities.”
Chandrika recently represented India at Softball Olympic Qualifiers in Jakarta, Indonesia. Though the team couldn’t qualify, she didn’t lose her confidence. “Jakarta was an incredible experience, it was the first time I saw a plane and the first time I played with international teams. I’ve seen the competitiveness and game of people from different parts of the world. This trip filled me with new confidence and passion, and a zeal to achieve bigger things in life.” she said.
Chandrika is not only a good athlete but also a bright student. She recently scored 9.5/10 in her 10th standard board exams and was applauded by her teachers and fellow students. Chandrika believes that the future is bright for her. Talking about her aim in life, she said, “I am very thankful to ASA for everything they did for me. My aim is to win an Olympic medal in the 2024 Olympics and make my parents and ASA proud.”
The story of 15-year-old Animela Chandrika is a story of courage and hard work, and remains an inspiration to the girls around her, proving that all dreams can come true if one has the courage to pursue them!