Special training for budding archers – 28 schoolchildren from hills dream to be another Paril

The Telegraph

Kalimpong, Nov. 3: Twenty-eight wannabe archers from Kalimpong and its surrounding areas were introduced to a specialised training for over a month in the hope that they become another Paril Lepcha.

The 16-year-old archery sensation from the hills, Paril, had represented Bengal at the National Games in Guwahati in 2007. She had also won one gold, two silvers and a bronze at the 26th sub-junior national archery meet at Ajmer in 2005.

The training that concluded here yesterday was the brainchild of Chujang Lepcha, who had coached his daughter Paril into national prominence. The programme was organised under the banner of the Gorkha Archery Training Centre (GATC), which was formed earlier this year by Lepcha and a few archery enthusiasts.

The youngsters Under-10, Under-17 and Under-19 categories were trained by a four-member coaching team headed by Lakik Lepcha who was assisted by Paril herself, Ongdup and Jigme Lepcha.

“The youngsters were trained to use bow and arrows made from bamboo in what we call Indian round of archery. Once they master this particular round, they can shift to fibre-based equipment and modern archery,” said Ongdup, who is a Sports Authority of India-trained archer.

However, given the huge cost of equipment, the youngsters will have to excel and come under the wings of organisations like SAI to avail of modern bows and arrows.

“Although they used bamboo-made equipment, switching over to the fibre ones used by the national-level and international archers will not be difficult,” said Chujang, who is also the secretary of the GATC.

During the training, the youngsters were put through strenuous physical and mental exercise. “To improve their concentration, the trainees were also taught yoga,” said Chujang.

According to him, the GATC will organise more training camps for the youngsters, who are mostly school students, during the two-month-long winter break beginning early December. “In the next phase, we plan to introduce inter-school archery competition to spot more talents.”

Fourteen-year-old Kaban Lepcha, a Class VIII student of Kalimpong Girls’ High School, said she thoroughly enjoyed the training and would take up the sport depending on the opportunity. “I decided to try archery because of Paril didi. Since I come from her area, she is a huge inspiration.”

Namchu, another trainee, too, echoed Kaban. “I will continue with my practice,” the 13-year-old said.

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