Rourkela, May 13: Tulasi Ekka, who brought glory to the state by playing in Santosh Trophy and other national tournaments, now works as a plumber to eke out a living.
After running from pillar to post to get a government job under the sports quota for several years, Tulasi (54) is now facing adverse situations in his life. He is now working as a plumber in Sundargarh district to earn his daily bread.
Tulasi, a native of Kantajhar Badajholi village near Rourkela was born to Manu Ekka and Sugi Eka. He developed an interest in football from his early childhood. While he was a student of Hamirpur high school, he represented his school in a series of intra-school matches. Haunting the hidden talents, the school physical teacher inspired him to witness sub-divisional matches and practice football with some veteran players in the Ispat Stadium of the Rourkela Steel Plant.
Meanwhile, he was trained by ace football coaches, Nina Patnaik and Kishore Das at the stadium. Hidden inclination and technical guidance of the trainers made Tulasi grasp the very techniques of the game and he defeated many state-level players on the ground with ease.
Discovering the talent of Tulasi as an all-rounder footballer, he was sponsored by the Steel Authorities of India (SAIL) to represent the Rourkela Steel Plant in a number of state-level matches and achieved ample success. Subsequently, he played the Santosh Trophy in 1989 and became a craze for the fraternities of football. Apart from it, he had fetched glory for the state, playing for Jayadurga Club in his long career.
Being a member of a poverty-stricken family, Tulasi could not proceed further in his study which was discontinued after his matriculation. He excelled in playing football in all formats and scripted history in the arena of sports being a tribal sports star, especially from the hockey land of Odisha.
However, the ace footballer who was once upon a time defeating his opponents on the ground, remained defeated in his struggle of life, to earn two square meals for his elderly parents. Neither, he was appointed out of compassion by SAIL nor he could get a small job somewhere with the state government offices, despite he applied for an engagement as a befitting sports person. As a result, he went old and took retirement from the game for good.
Nowadays, Tulasi is searching for wages, wandering in nuke and corners of the Sundergarh district to manage his family, as a plumber.
“It is too difficult to meet the school expenses of my daughter from my wages. I can’t work anymore as a plumber as I am about 54 years old. Thus I am worried about my only daughter’s future”, said Tulasi with tearful eyes.