Wielding a bow and an arrow for sport and fitness may sound like one is regressing to an ancient age, but this is perhaps a much more contemporary craze, going by the number of sports enthusiasts enrolling to learn this art. Shihan Hussaini, who may be called the father of modern archery in south India, started the Hu Archery Mission Club to train youngsters all over Tamil Nadu, aiming ultimately to strike an Olympic gold in the coming years. It’s believed that Syed Khazi Tajudeen, a direct descendant of the Prophet Mohammed, took over as the chief instructor of equestrian archery for Pandya King Soundarapandian, during their regime.
Shihan Hussaini, a descendant of Khazi Tajudeen, mastered the art, and has been involved, since 1975, in efforts to revive modern archery in Tamil Nadu.
His students range in age from three years to 69 years.
“I believe that archery is going to take over every other foreign sport as it’s one of the most ancient in India. Children are completely excited about this sport and huge numbers turn up at my club to get trained in modern archery,” says Hussaini, founder and general secretary of The Archery Association of Tamil Nadu.
Keen to take the sport outside Chennai too, he spends all seven days of the week, travelling to more than 13 districts as he loves to train children himself with the utmost care and passion that he has for the sport. “My aim is to select about eight youngsters from 13 districts in Tamil Nadu, and prepare them well for the next Olympics, and to win accolades for my state,” he says. He has named this talent hunt mission, All-out Medal Mission Archery, or AMMA.
The most interesting part of his Hu Archery mission is to train underprivileged children free of cost. “We are organising free camps and workshops for youngsters in several districts as this sport is a divine art and is the very epitome of our ancient India, and it must be practised by every individual in our country,” he says.
The Hu Archery team has won nine medals, competing against the Indian Olympic champions in a national-level tournament, which was held last year in the city. “I was overwhelmed by my team’s performance in the last tournament and am expecting more from threse passionate youngsters. Tamil Nadu Chief minister J. Jayalalithaa, has honoured me with a `50 lakh cash reward for my initiative in archery,” he says, with pride.