The Tale of a Women’s Throwball team
I am not into storytelling. Neither I have interest nor the skill. But there are some stories that deserve to be shared. One such story I lived through recently, that need to reach the masses.
It was lunch time when Naina (My wife) received a call. It was Manisha Bhabhi who called her to ask Naina to participate in the Throwball tournament going to happen in township.
Throwball? what’s that?
Naina and me had no idea. But Manisha bhabhi sounded very confident. Naina gave it a nod as she could not frame an excuse at that time. I said ” Are you kidding me” Will you play throw ball?
Naina is someone who have never played any game in her entire life. She had no inclination towards sports.
Next day a team was formed comprising of all the Desi Girls who agreed to join. Almost all were from the rural backgrounds with no exposure to such tournaments. None of them had any backgWhile the other team participating had smarter ladies who use to play sport and had good exposure for such tournaments.
I don’t know who named this team. But the Team was named “Victorious”. The team was as follows:
- Mishri Meena- Captain
- Manisha Sharma- Server
- Khelan Meena
- Naina Sharma
- Madhulata Meena
- Riya Garg
- Santosh Swamy
Mishri Meena– She is a simple lady with amazing leadership qualities. She bound the entire team in one knot. She motivated the the players and lifted even the worst player to live up to the expectation.
Manisha Sharma– She was the only X factor of the team, on which the entire team was counting. She is an amazing server of the ball. She was the only hope for this team to make a mark in this tournament.
Khelan Meena– She just recovered from her pregnancy with a three month old daughter. She is a tough lady with a zeal to play. She use to bring her 3month old along in the ground and contributed a lot for the team.
Naina Sharma– The forced entry to the squad. She had no idea what is this all about. A mediocre thrower and a weak catcher of the team.
Madhulata Meena– Smartest of the lot. A very good catcher of the ball. A perfect fit for a centre player.
Riya Garg– A teacher by profession, hailing from Haryana. An average in catching as well as in throwing the ball.
Santosh Swamy– A skinny lady with high power spectacles. She was the 7th name, but she was a good catcher of the ball.
The team were the underdogs till the time they played their first match. All the sophistication around was a pressure on this team. Being the simplest of the teams, they stick to the fundamentals.
They started practicing for the game whose name was alien to them two days back. Catch catch and catch. Throw Throw and Throw this is what they knew.
Me, Anil (Manisha’s Husband) and Sita Ram (Khelan’s Husband) tried ti helped their team in the little support they required. We taught them how this game is played. All the by-laws and little tricks. It was like teaching the Lagaan team as how to play Cricket.
Manisha’s service was naturally amazing. She could serve flat to the nets with extremely high speed. Madhu was outstanding in catching. Mishri was good at catching as well. So was Riya.
Khelan had a naturally strong arm, which can deliver a forceful return.
The chanllenge for the team was to manage Naina. She had no proper catching skills and throw was also not that great. Mishri shown her great Captain’s brain and placed herself behind Naina. There were clear instructions to Naina to leave anything which is not directly coming on her body. Mishri managed Naina very well.
Santosh on the other hand were suffering from ailments in the beginning days of practice. She joined the team later.
The team started practicing with everyone knowing their role in the team. This seemed like working. I could see the balance in the team and the team synergy, the rarest traits. I could see no individual, but a team playing for a common goal. To make a mark for themselves. To achieve something other than their daily chores.
I could see players in this team helping each other, nobody shouting, nobody criticizing. Just Helping each other. That’s how underdogs do. They have nothing to loose.
Then came the D-day. The first day of the Tournament.
Team Victorious was too nervous. As they all were skeptical about how they will perform under pressure. Naina on the previous night was feeling low. She was afraid that her poor game would affect her team’s performance. But giving up at this juncture was no option.
First Match- Victorious vs Marvellous.
Score was 15-6, 15-3 in favour of Victorious. A clean sweep. What a game this team have shown. Well coordinated. Manisha’s serves left the opponent clueless. Mishri managed a huge area alone, shielding Naina. The first point came on Naina’s return to one ball she caught, which was directed to her. Gave her a bit confidence.
By this time the crowd and opponents started accepting the fact that this team have something to watch for.
Second match- Victorious vs Phoenix
Phoenix was by far the best team of the tournament. With all players playing the finest throw ball among all the participating teams. Their Captain Shruti was a good athlete and was the champion of badminton tournament. Very agile and sporty. The only one who can counter her was Manisha, who were at her best and stole the show with her crisp and accurate serves. The team Phoenix had no answer for the serves. The first set won by Victorious by a huge margin.
The second set was full of drama. Victorious leading with 14-13. When suddenly a ball seemed rolling into the hands of the opponent. They started celebrating their victory while referee haven’t signalled it as a carry ball. While they jumped in joy, celebrating the victory, came a sharp return from the Team Phoenix. Referee whistled one point to Team Phoenix. Deuce 14-14. They started arguing with referee as how could that not be given as a foul. While they were engaged in argument came a crisp and furiously swift serve from team Phoenix’s captain Shruti. Score-14-15 advantage Team Phoenix. The set ran in back to back three deuce points before Phoenix snatched it from the hands of team Victorious. They were left aback by the stupid behavior of themselves. Lost an almost won set.
Third set- They left no stone unturned, played a solid game of throw ball. They defeated phoenix 15-7.
They won third and fourth match convincingly and became the only team with clean sweep in round robin. Winning all four matches. They finished on top of the table and qualified for the finale.
The Grand Finale.
This team not even performed better than everyone expectations, but had drawn a huge support for themselves. All the team, even those who got defeated by team Victorious were cheering for these ladies in yellow on the grand finale. Everyone wanted these Yellow Wasps to put their final sting.
The finale was bets of three sets, each being of 25 points.
They have to face the best team of the tournament, whom they somehow managed to defeat in round robins. Team Phoenix was all set and better prepared for them this time.
Team Phoenix had rotation in servers, while Team Victorious was relying on Manisha again. But it was difficult to predict if Manisha could continuously serve 75 times for this match with same intensity and power.
The match started. With Shruti serving exactly in the right places, with accuracy and speed. Manisha countered with her powerful swinging serves. But due to some unforced errors made in catching by the team costed them the first set. Team Phoenix won the first set 25-20.
Second set- Victorious dominated from the very first serve. They easily won this set 25-12.
The Final Set- There was a heavy roar from the crowd. All cheering these women in yellow. All wanted them to win. The Phoenix dominated the set from the beginning. Manisha was the only server in Team Victorious, while Team Phoenix had two. After serving almost 50 serves her shoulder was fatigued. With Manisha’s heavy shoulder, her serves were not that sharp and Phoenix was able to collect all.
In attempt of putting more power in serve Manisha’s serves was going hay wire. While Shruti and Rajinder kept on scoring with their accurate serves.
Then came Mishri and Khelan into the play. They started placing the ball between the players so well that it started compensating the gap of points, which was once gone over 10. They started covering up with forceful replies from Khetan and sharp drops by Mishri. Riya who was targeted by Shruti and Rajinder, on the other hand started receiving the serves cleanly. It was 18-22 in favour of Phoenix. The ball was Manisha’s hand. There was a discussion whether she should serve of Mishri should do this serve. After all speculations it was decided that if Manisha could serve in right places, this can get them crucial points at this stage of the match.
On the other hand, Manisha’s shoulder, after serving almost 70 serves, was fatigued. Her heart was beating heavily with her throat getting dry, she put all her energy in this serve to make it reach the third part of opponent’s court. It crossed the line. An out of court serve. Point given to Phoenix. Back to back two out of courts serves and on catch drop.
Team Victorious failed to become Victorious.
Then there were these 6 women in yellow, standing in the court with tears rolling. The emotions gushing from their faces. The crowd which was roaring in their support was silent. As if many heart broke that very moment. As if everyone wanted them to win. As If everyone was relating to this team. As if team Victorious was carrying so many hopes. All shattered. Spectators came forward to console them, all saying in one voice. Well Played. Well played.
Me at one corner of the court was amazed to see how these ladies got so much support from all the unknown people???
Is it because of the quality of the game they played? may be, Not exactly. Perhaps, it was the simplicity and innocence they played with. Or perhaps everyone in the crowd could relate to them.
Once in our lives, we all have dreamt one such turn arounds. Something earned with hard work. Not all could achieve it. So whenever we see someone achieving it. We relate to them. We feel connected. As it is the same feeling, we were lasting for.
These 7 ladies, whom nobody knew have suddenly became the talk of the town. More than the win of Team Phoenix the loss of Team Victorious was in discussions.
In this tournament of Throwball, Many teams won matches and medals.
But the Team in yellow, The Desi ChhiChhoriyaan Won The Hearts.
Good naration direct ground to paper….👍👍🙏