At 11, Mamatha Guguloth was fascinated by softball more because of its novelty. She heard of it the first time when she was a student at the Mamata High School (Armoor) in Nizamabad district of Telangana.
But, little did Mamatha know that seven years later she would be the only girl from Telangana to be selected for the Asian Games to be held in Hangzhou (China) from September 23.
“The students were playing many sports. But it was for the first time I heard about softball and got hooked on it. Fortunately, (I) had a very good mentor in Ganga Mohan Sir (secretary of the Nizamabad District Softball Association).
“Slowly, I was able to improve my skills and technique to be a good player,” said Mamatha. “Once I represented Nizamabad at an inter-district meet in 2016 in Hyderabad, I realised I had a future in the sport. I never regretted playing this sport as I was passionate about it.”
Born in a farmer’s family, she is grateful for her parents’ unwavering support. There have been occasions when the family has had to borrow money to enable her to travel and play in different tournaments.
Along with softball, Mamatha, 18, is pursuing a Bachelor of Arts degree from the Telangana Social Welfare Residential Armed Forces Preparatory Degree College for Women (Bibinagar) and is currently in her second year.
She dreams of having a career in the Indian military.
Mamatha, who has represented Telangana in four senior nationals, is now obsessed with a grand goal – she wants the Indian team to shine in China. The teenager, who has several ‘best catcher’ awards in the junior and senior nationals, said, “I am grateful to all the coaches, and the Softball Association and the Telangana Social Welfare Residential Educational Institutions Society (TSWREIS) officials who helped me make it this far.”
Hangzhou will mark India’s debut in women’s softball. “We were hoping softball would be introduced in the Asiad. And once it was done, now our ultimate goal is to win gold. That should be great,” said the young talent, mentored by Principal Panduranga, and Defence Staff Captain Rakhi Chauhan.
Mamatha has already attended a 15-day camp in Vikaspuri Sports Complex (Delhi) and will be joining another camp before the Asian Games.
“The atmosphere is simply great in the camp. We are all excited and ready for the big challenge. Hope to come back with flying colours,” she said.
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