Jamshedpur, Sep 23: As part of its initiative to protect and promote tribal culture and identity, Tata Steel Foundation has been making efforts to activate and highlight grassroots sports like Kati that are played after the harvest season by Bhumij and Santhal tribes. The Foundation has been organising small leagues across Jharkhand and Odisha to promote the sport and protect the athletic side of tribal culture every year from January to March.
Bhushan Sardar, a Kati expert from the Potka block in East Singhbhum, has actively played the sport for many years and has now transitioned into a coaching role. “I played Kati all through my childhood. However, since about 30 years ago, there was a period when children in our communities had stopped playing sports like Kati. Since the Foundation set up these leagues and classes, I have seen that children have once again started playing Kati” recounts Bhushan. He now trains children and adolescents from Potka in this sport. This is a community based sport, and these children have also been encouraged to play exhibition matches where members from the local tribal communities come together to watch and enjoy Kati. This has helped form stronger bonds within these communities as well as preserve their way of life and culture.
“If we do not teach children these sports, it will die once again; sports like Kati are a part of our culture and we must protect it and pass it on. With Tata Steel Foundation’s effort, we were able to revive this sport and now we must actively make an effort to not let it die again” says Bhushan. The Foundation has set up academies where children could play as well as adults. Across Jharkhand and Odisha there are now about eight centres in each state.
Besides Kati, the Foundation is steadily working at promoting other sports including sekkor, chur, bahuchor and ramdel.