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Aug 21, 2011 at 10:00am IST

Real Hero Dinesh trains village kids in archery

Gujrat: A former national level archer, Dinesh Bhil gave up on his international dream to set up an archery academy in the tribal region of Naswadi in Gujarat. Today Bhil's boys are already outshining others at both state and national level.

Thirty boys with nothing but a burning desire to be the best in the world - no fancy track to train, no fancy equipment, these tribal boys of Naswadi in Gujarat train with bows made of bamboo and wood. Some practice with torn shoes, some without shoes pushing them to do their best despite all odds - the one man who has invested his entire life, time and money in making champions out of these little warriors.

Bhil struggled on his own to win national medals and just when he was at the peak and all set for his international challenges, Bhil made a difficult choice, he gave up his international dream so that he could change the lives of others like him. He came back to his village, with a little help bought this land and started the Eklavya archery academy in 2005.

"There is no academy, no coach in Gujarat. That is why I have opened an academy here," Bhil said.

The idea came when he was training in Delhi at the sports authority of India.

"I would collect rejected equipment of the SAI players and bring them back home for the kids," Bhil said.

The academy still survives on rejects or handmade bows and arrows. The government of Gujarat has helped them with only five sets of professional archery sets.

"In order to perform we need latest equipments which cost are 1.5 lakhs," Bhil said.

Functioning out of this ramshackle shed; Eklavya Academy is one of the poorest in the world.

For Bhil, the biggest worry is funds for the right diet and though he does odd jobs like taking part time classes in the local primary school, the funds are never enough.

Bhil picks up talented boys from villages where an archery championship is even unheard off. Magan and Raman believe that if not for Bhil they would've lost their talent in the daily grind of the village but today they are proud national gold medalists and the village looks up to them.

Bhil also makes sure that these boys also attend regular school and college through sports quota.

Encouragement, education, excellence - Bhil's contribution to these children's goes way beyond these. In these smaller moments he is also giving them a childhood they might never have had.