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Telangana Saints

Posted on Friday, July 5, 2019 by ARFAI,

The first ever Australian Football team from Telangana state

Telangana became the 9th state to officially join the AFL India family with the Telangana state team (seniors) participating at the ARFAI National Championships 2019 in Kolkata, West Bengal.

However, the seed was planted in 2017 when Nagarjuna Vajrala (Nag), an Indian origin Australian living in Melbourne connected with the AFL India team on tour to Australia for AFL International Cup 2017. Nag travelled back to his home state Andhra Pradesh in India in 2018, which was divided into two states Telangana & Andhra Pradesh recently and took it upon himself to launch his favourite sport in the two states. Nag had originally been dreaming to take Australia Football to India before he connected with AFL India and found out that the sport had started making inroads in the country already. Nag credits a massive amount of support to his wife Alekhya Annapureddy who has provided constant motivation and support in the process.

Nagarjuna Vajrala (middle) with the Telangana team and officials

Alongside Nag, AFL India had also been contacted by a very passionate Shridhar Babu from Hyderabad, who had worked for development of multiple sports in the region and wanted to take on the responsibility to develop the exciting new sport in India.

Hence the ball started “bouncing” in Hyderabad, Telangana once Nag and Shridhar connected and the first team representing Telangana in Australian Football participated at the National Championship in January 2019.

The debutant team playing their first few Footy matches ever made a decent start to their journey and picked up some key learning / coaching during the tournament. The state team led by Shridhar Babu went back and started implementing the learning and realised the growth of the fast-paced game across the state of Telangana. In four months’ time, the game had spread to four new districts of the state outside Hyderabad to – Rangareddy, Warrangal, Mahabubnagar and Medchal.

Awards ceremony at the inaugural state Footy championship in Telangana

On 5th May 2019, the first ever tournament of Australian Rules Football was organised in the state of Telangana at Pallavi Model School in Boduppal, organised by Medchal District Footy Association. The Grand Final of the tournament was played between Hyderabad Hawks and Rangareddy Demons district teams and Rangareddy district team emerged as the inaugural champions of the Telangana state championship of Australian Football.

In the following months post the state championship, development work has continued to grow the sport and have junior participants join in and have also rolled out the national junior development program IndiKick in the state, constantly guided by Nagarjuna Vajrala and other ARFAI officials.

Nag, Alekhya, Shridhar and everyone else involved with development of Footy in Telangana looks forward to support from the Telugu community in Australia who love the sport and would like to join in the journey of developing the sport back in their home country. Telangana Footy Association is also looking forward to expand the sport in the state and provide more opportunities for players in the state.