As the cold winter in Assam is nearing its end, Buli Basumatary is trying her best to sell all the oranges that she bought from Bhutan, in a small market in a remote part of Chirang district of Assam. The coming days are really going to be difficult for her as the orange season draws to an end. After this season, she can’t work and she will have to remain at home.
Buli now lives with her meagre daily wages. Her husband is also a casual wage labourer. They have two daughters. But, she is not destined to lead such a miserable life. Had she been successful, she would have been a role model for millions of girls in our country.
She was once a talented archer who had a dream of achieving great heights in the field of archery. But now those dreams seem just like any other countless number of fairy tales which her grandfather had told her when she was a young girl.
At a very young age, she started practising archery in her own village with a handmade bow and arrow. Being brought up in a region which is frequently affected by ethnic violence, insurgency and counter-insurgency violence, it was an arduous job for Buli to develop her skills. She had to continue practising without proper equipment because of financial constraints. Her parents are marginal farmers in Chirang.
After being selected in one of the camps organised by the Sports Authority of India (SAI), she began to bring laurels to her family and the state by winning medals in various championships and tournaments across the country.
In the year 2005, she won gold in the Sub-Junior National Archery Championship held in Rajasthan. The very next year, she won a gold again, this time in the School Games Federation of India. In the same year, she clinched the silver in the 51st National School Games at Amravati. Later, she won a silver in a team event in the 26th Senior National Archery Championship held at Jamshedpur. She bagged a silver again in the team event in the 28th National Archery Championship held at Jamshedpur in the year 2008.
She continued her scintillating performance by winning medals in various national tournaments. She was one of the top archers during that period. Despite all the successes and achievements, she did not get any sort of financial help to sustain her training and day to day expenses. She didn’t secure support from the government which restrained her from getting a good trainer. She also had some minor injuries.
Because of financial constraints, Buli could not afford training equipment and had to stop participating in various championships. Her career and life came to a sudden halt. She hailed from a backward region of the country so nobody paid attention to the star that faded away too soon.
She is currently training four budding archers so that at least they can fulfil the dream which Buli once had.
Her financial backwardness crippled her journey to becoming a successful archer. She would have been an inspiring personality in Indian sports had she been given more attention by the government and SAI. Despite winning medals, she was not given any assistance by the government of India.
Just like Sania Mirza or Saina Nehwal or Deepa Karmakar or Mary Kom, Buli could have been an inspiration to millions of girls. The question that remains in our minds is: what made the government neglect this budding talent? No wonder India trumpets the victory of just one or two medals at the Olympics and Commonwealth Games!
More power to athletes like Buli, and more power to you, our community, for coming together to #StartTheChange!