If there is one person who is responsible for the popularity of ball badminton in India in the early 1950's, it is Jammalamadaka Pichaiah.
What is ball badminton?
Ball badminton is a team sport, where each team consists of five players. The game is played with a yellow ball made of wool and a wooden racket. The net is made of fine cord and is a combination of colors – red, white and blue.
Three games constitute a match, and a team that wins two games is declard the winner. And how do you win a game? By getting to the 29th point first!
One needs quick reflexes and agility to succeed in the sport. Ball badminton is an outdoor game and is very popular in the southern part of India. The rules of the game are fairly simple, and it can be played in a backyard too.
The story of Pichaiah
Pichaiah was born in Kuchipudi in Krishna district of Andhra Pradesh in 1918. He moved to Warangal post independence as he started to work in the Azam Jahi mills. But his work did not stop him from playing the game.
Pichaiah played in 15 nationals between 1955 and 1970 and pocketed nine titles. His success inspired thousands of people in the state to take up the sport.
Pichaiah continued to play the game long after retirement.
“I actively played till the 1970s. I even played when I was 91 years old, not to compete with others but for my self-satisfaction and my friends," he says.
He endured several struggles during his playing days as there was no proper transport to tournament venues, and the prize money was incredibly low. For his efforts, the government of India honoured him with the Arjuna award in 1970. However, the ball badminton legend is frequently neglected by authorities when he needs their help the most.
He was felicitated by Andhra Pradesh chief minister Chandrababu Naidu in December last year and was promised Rs. 5 lakh, but he has not yet recieved the amount. For a man who made ball badminton his life, the least the government can do is help him lead a normal life.