Nestled in the Western Ghats, in the south-west corner of Karnataka and bordered by Kerala on one side, the little district known as Coorg or Kodagu, is the heartland of Indian hockey.
For the inhabitants of this district, which has churned out more than 50 international hockey players, the game is inextricably woven into the fabric of their everyday existence.
The game of hockey is no strange to Kodagu, which has produced a number of Olympians and World Cuppers in the men’s section and several reputed players in the women section. Sport is simply an extension of this community’s culture.
While a lot of people from this community have distinguished themselves in the armed forces, their achievements in sport are not far behind either.
Hockey, the much sought after sports in the country after cricket, has witnessed many talents from this land. Despite hectic routine, which includes visits to the coffee estates, trips to the district’s centre and a fairly active social life, Kodavas manage to squeeze in a game of hockey at the local ground, almost every day.
Added to this, the annual Family Hockey festival known as Hockey Namme, played between the families stands testimony to this as it provides a platform to identify and nurture hockey talents from the land. The festival, which was started in 1997, has been going strong. Open only to members of the Kodava community, matches are played between the members of different Kodava families.
One such hockey talent, produced from Kodagu, also known as the land of warriors and coffee, is Chikkanda Bhagyasri, daughter of Chikkanda Prabhu Madappa and Renuka Madappa from Andagove village in Kodagu, who is currently the Manager of Karnataka Hockey squad which is taking part in the ongoing seventh Indian Sub-Junior Hockey Championship at Ramanathapuram in Tamil Nadu.
Having been selected to Sports Authority of India (SAI) hostel in Madikeri at the age of 12, Bhagyasri, who had her initial education at St. Mary’s English Medium School at Suntikoppa, later completed her PU education from the Government College in Madikeri and completed her degree at Field Marshal Cariappa College. Honing her skills in hockey under the tutelage of coach Vivek Chaturvedi, Bhagyasri was selected to the State women’s hockey squad and since then, there has been no looking back for her.
She has played in the National Sub-Junior Hockey Tournament at Chhatisgarh, National Games at New Delhi in 2011, National Women’s Championship at Hyderabad, Second National Junior Hockey Meet at Haryana in 2012, 58th National Hockey Championship at Punjab, Third Junior Hockey Meet at Ranchi in 2013, Fourth National Junior Hockey meet in Mysuru in 2014, National Games at Uttar Pradesh and Kerala in 2015, Sixth National Meet held at Bengaluru and the ties at Haryana, UP and also in Mangaluru, organised by Association of Indian Universities in 2016, totalling 11 National meets to her credit, among others, thus bringing laurels to the State.
Some of the hockey players from Kodagu who have made it big in international level are A. B. Subbaiah, Len Aiyappa , M. P. Ganesh, M.M. Somaiya, Arjun Halappa, V.R. Raghunath, B.P. Govinda and S.V. Sunil.
Other Kodavas who have excelled in various sports are Ashwini Nachappa (Athletics), Rohan Bopanna (Tennis), Joshna Chinappa (Squash), Jagat and Anita Nanjappa (Motor Sports), Machaiah (Boxing), Ashwini Ponnappa (Badminton), Robin Uthappa (Cricket), Appanna (Cricket), Pramila Aiyappa Ganapathy (Athletics) and Poovamma (Athletics) among others.