Janaki Banjara is a girl of many talents. The 14-year-old class IX student of Anand Niketan high school (Shilaj) is an outstanding footballer, danseuse, swimmer, athlete and scout who has also consistently been a top-of-the-class pupil !
Janaki's latest accomplishment is a callup to the national camp that will pick the India under-17 girls football team. Considering her age, it's no mean feat and comes quickly on the heels of her terrific show at the national championships in Uttarkhand recently where she slammed a hat-trick , which was no flash-in-the-pan . She was, after all, the skipper of the Gujarat team. And on November 14, Children's Day ( Jaw a h a r a l Nehru's birthday ) Janaki will be leading the Anand Niketan dance group at the National Institute of Performing Arts (NIPA) in Delhi. The school will represent Gujarat at the festival which will also feature troupes from six other countries and all other Indian states.
When the letter from the Gujarat State Football Association arrived this week asking her to join the national camp, she was beside herself with joy. "This is an honour. I will do my best to get into the India squad," she said. Janaki rates the best performance award that her school troupe won at the India International Centre in New Delhi in 2006 at a national competition organised by cultural group Avantika as her finest moment on the cultural front. School coach Khetsingh Rana is proud of the fact that in the span of a few months, another girl from his school team has won recognition at the national level. "Vishwa Patel's inclusion in Team India that took part in the Asian U-14 championships in Vietnam was a great moment for us. Now, it is Janaki who has brought us the laurels ," he said. At the Special National Jamboree in Kolkata in 2007 - the centenary year of the scouts movement - Janaki was one of a few who were awarded the Adventure Activity Award and in 2005 she trekked the Himalayas in a Youth Hostels Association of India programme.
At the age of six, she appeared on Gujarat Doordarshan as part of a dance group that had won the first prize in a local competition organised for charity. This year Janaki won the 'Group Kathak second best' award at Global Harmony , a multi-lingual drama, dance and music competition organised in Pune by the Akhil Bharatiya Sanskrutik Sangh which is a member of the Dance Council of UNESCO, Paris. She also took part in a Rajasthani Folk contest there and clinched a consolation prize.
At the West Zone athletics championships, Janaki participated in the triathlon, and won medals at local swimming competitions. She also takes part in state yoga meets.
Janaki scores around 95 per cent marks in her exams. School principal Caesar D'Silva said, "I wish her success for the future." The allrounder par excellence says, "I will continue all my activities in the class X and XII as well. I am confident that I can master all trades!"