Anantapur Sports Academy (ASA), an initiative by the Rural Development Trust (RDT), is a development programme that reaches out to almost 9,000 children on a weekly basis and provides them with infrastructure, education, coaching and nutrition. More than just a facility to provide children with a platform to excel at sports, ASA is an initiative that uses sports as a medium to create social change amongst rural communities in Andhra Pradesh.
The residential program at the Anantapur Sports Village (ASA’s academics centre), gives children the opportunity to practice sports regularly while also attending schools and colleges nearby as well as participate in regular supplement classes (English and Life skills) at the campus itself.
C. Supritha, a 15-year-old Hockey Goalkeeper, is someone who has really grabbed this opportunity. Originally from a village near Atmakur town in the Anantapur district, Supritha was an extremely reserved and shy individual when she joined the academy four years ago.
“I was very shy, I didn’t really like or know how to talk to new people,” she said, remembering how she was back then.
However, after four years at ASA, she is a completely different person. Today, she describes herself as a leader and believes that she is her own role model. Supritha comes across to anyone who talks to her as very confident, positive and open-minded.
At school, Supritha’s favourite subjects are Social Science and English. This interest has led to a remarkable improvement in her language skills. When discussing Supritha’s progress in English, the Academic Coordinator at ASA, Mrigendra Singh said, “Thinking back to the first class I had with Supritha, her English, especially her writing, has improved a lot. Her spelling and grammatical errors have gone down substantially.’
Mrigendra also believes that it is the effort that she puts into learning on her own time, outside class, that makes her stand out. This intrinsic motivation has led to her pronunciation improving dramatically, something a lot of the other students struggle with.
Supritha is and has been making a conscious effort to improve her English as she believes being fully fluent in the language will be a strong asset for her success in the future, a future that she feels lies beyond Anantapur. Though (like most others at age 15) she hasn’t decided what she wants to do professionally, she has some very clear aims. She wants to work as a social worker or perhaps become a doctor.
It is evident that she wants to work in a field where she can help others, and that is quite telling about her personality. Supritha feels that learning languages like English and Hindi will open up several opportunities for her. It will also allow her to comfortably communicate with a number of people wherever she is.
“I’m not fluent in English yet, but I am working very hard to get to that point. It will help me a lot in writing exams, meeting new people and also in finding a job in the future,” she said when asked about why she is so keen on learning English well.
Being in a sports campus, academics are naturally not the only focus. However, Supritha is able to successfully prioritise and balance all her responsibilities. Her dedicated and focused outlook on life is something she credits to Hockey. She has successfully managed to take the values she has learned on the pitch and use them in every walk of life. The values she strongly emphasises on are focus and respect.
Supritha’s former coach, Ankitha, agreed, saying, “Supritha is a very good learner. She’s kind and compassionate. She is always asking questions, whether it is in the classroom or out on the pitch. She’s very involved in the Life skills classes at ASA and has managed to inculcate those lessons into her life.”
Her parents are really supportive of her, but they are both also very expectant. The pressure to do well doesn’t faze Supritha though, she believes that if she focuses on what she’s doing at the moment and works to her full potential, the results will always follow.
At 15, Supritha is already an inspiration to her peers. She is the kind of person who makes the people around her better at what they’re doing. Whether it is in Hockey practice, during a competitive match or while doing homework after school. As ASA Academic Coordinator Mrigendra Singh puts it, “Supritha always does more than what is asked of her. She comes into the library whenever she has time. She’s proactive, focused and driven.”