Nandi group deserves a pat

Action during the Rayalaseema Talent Huntat the Li Ning-Nandi Pipes Badminton Academy, Nandyal.-

After its badminton initiative took wing, the Nandi group set up a tennis academy in 2007 followed by another for cricket in 2009. By Joseph Antony.

“I have firm faith, that when anything is started with noble intentions, progressive vision and appropriate planning, it will definitely lead to great success,” predicted S. M. Arif, shortly before the Nandi Pipes Badminton Academy (NPBA) opened at Nandyal in Kurnool district of southern Andhra Pradesh in 2002. Behind it was a man who had his heart in the right place perhaps!

A year later, when drought and famine ravaged Andhra Pradesh, S.P.Y. Reddy’s pragmatism saved several lives. By organising distribution of jowar (sorghum) rotis, each costing a rupee, he averted scores of certain starvation deaths. For, just two pieces of this unleavened bread could stave off a day’s hunger.

The philanthropist, a shuttler himself, had found the ‘bird’ flying erratically when playing in the open and had an indoor facility built, mostly for his factory employees. “Of what use a temple without a priest?” he asked.

On Arif’s advice, Kattoju Venkateshwar Rao was appointed coach. “I knew sincerity cannot be purchased. Considering Venkat’s talent, involvement and ability in coaching, I was sure he would soon produce National players from Nandyal,” the Dronacharya awardee explained.

When serving two terms as Member of Parliament kept S.P.Y. Reddy away from Nandyal often, Nandi Group Managing Director S. Sreedhar Reddy, also a badminton buff, stepped in admirably. With equal commitment to develop the academy into a centre of excellence, he was ably assisted by K. Vamsidhar in administration.

Children, mostly from poor backgrounds and undergoing residential training at the academy, were always accompanied by a cook, when competing in national events. With a steady rise in performance by its players, Ashaway of Singapore became associated with the academy. Earlier this year, Li Ning entered into a three-year joint programme offering extensive support to the institution, now renamed the Li Ning-Nandi Pipes Badminton Academy.

The Chinese equipment manufacturer had reasons for the new foray, after tying up with two such academies in Bangalore and Pune. “The Li Ning-Nandi Pipes Badminton Academy is a shift from the two earlier urban centres and we hope to spot talent from the grass-root levels,” Syed Irfan Haider, Country Head, Li Ning/Sunlight Sports told Sportstar from Delhi.

With that in view, Li Ning joined hands with the NPBA for the recent Rayalaseema Talent Hunt. Over 300 entries were received for competitions meant for children below 15 years of age from host Kurnool and the neighbouring districts of Kadapa, Anantapur, Prakasam and Nellore.

After its badminton initiative took wing, the Nandi group set up a tennis academy in 2007 followed by another for cricket in 2009.

Each of the three academies is funded fully by the Nandi group of companies. The area, integral to the dust bowl known as Rayalaseema, may be arid, but sports seems to thrive here.