Manorama Club Award: YMA, Thiruvallam, creates ripples of change

 YMA, Thiruvallam
Members and trainees at YMA, Thiruvallam. Photo: Manorama

The Young Men's Association (YMA), one of the six finalists for the Manorama Sports Club Award 2020-21, has been making waves in the swimming arena for the past five decades. Situated at Thiruvallam on the outskirts of Thiruvananthapuram, the YMA was established in 1967 by a group of local youngsters who had a passion for aquatic sports, especially swimming and water polo. The club, which also has a strong volleyball team, has produced many talented swimmers and has done a lot to take the leisure sport to the next level. 

Remarkably, the number of YMA products who landed government jobs under sports quota would come around 150. Many of them still actively take part in the affairs of the club and keep the bond intact. Recently, the alumni of the YMA pooled in a good amount to buy a 32-cent land for the club to construct a swimming pool with modern amenities. 

The YMA began with imparting training to youngsters in the locality in volleyball and badminton. The club started providing swimming lessons to children in 1971. It was at the Karamana River close to Thiruvallam Sree Parasurama Temple where hundreds of thousands of villagers learned the basics of swimming. There are over two dozens of international swimmers and over 100 national-level swimmers who rose through the ranks of the YMA.  YMA products also have a strong presence in several departmental teams in the country.

Currently, the YMA trains over hundred aspiring swimmers in different techniques of swimming from basic to advanced level. The coaching classes are being offered free of cost. Those who complete the training programme make it a point to pass on their knowledge and skills to the next generation. 

When the YMA thought about having an own swimming pool six years ago, the club's alumni network, which has around 100 members who are in government service, pitched in and donated Rs 40,000 each to buy a 32-cent plot to fulfill that long-standing dream. About 60 percent of the construction works of the pool, which has a length of 50 metres and a breadth of 16 metres, has been completed.  Each member of the club contributed Rs 20,000 to raise Rs 45 lakh for the initial construction works. The club has also availed loans and invested in chit fund schemes to mobilise funds.  

Seven years ago, the YMA had shifted the training centre to a private swimming pool in the area. The rent for the facility was Rs 15,000 per month. After the owner hiked the rent, the club had no option but to vacate the place. YMA returned to the Karamana River, where it all started, and for the past two months, swimming classes are being held there. 

"The work on the new pool is in the final phase. Hopefully, we can start using the new facility by June," said club president R R Nair.  

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