On the eve of the National Sports Day which is being celebrated in honour of legendary hockey player Dhyan Chand, Orissa POST interacts with several youth in the state who have evinced interest in various mainstream sporting events.
Sikshyata Chhatoi, a business analyst with Infosys, says, “I love swimming, standup paddling, kayaking and badminton. After my 9 to 5 job, it’s difficult to spend time in other activities but my deep interest draws me towards standup paddling. Sometimes, we use the surf board on still water to perform yoga. I had first tried it during the International Surf Festival at Chandrabhaga beach in Konark. It was amazing”.
Rahul Shukla, a marathoner, says, “A participant has to cover a distance of 42.2-km marathons. My first Ultra was Garwhal run from Dehradun to Dhanouti top (76-km) which I covered in 10: 8 minutes and placed third. I ran 111-km in Ladakh crossing Khardungla pass in 18: 48 minutes and was placed second ( race name – La Ultra) while preparing to run 333-km and Hell Race (Manali to Leh in five days). My other interests are martial arts and boxing. I used to learn karate at Utkal Karate School in Bhubaneswar but had to give up due to time constraints. It’s tough to run long distances without sponsors because all these races happen in remote places like the Himalayas or hills of Karanataka or Nilgiri or Vagamon. Also being a salaried person and working in an IT company where deadlines are very important, it becomes hard to practice. Most of the time, I keep running whole nights on the campus. I think of it as a meditation. As far as athletics is concerned, I think Odisha has a bright future. I am not sure how the government can help athletes. Because, I have almost hit rock bottom, I have decided not to take part in any long distance races in the near future (unless I get a sponsor). If you work really hard then these events can pay you handsomely. I think hockey, athletics and combat sports need attention in our country as young athletes have come up. The ongoing Asian games is testimony to this fact”.
According to Maharaj Udaykumar, an MBA student, “Football has been a part of me since I was a child. From being a sport, it became an addiction for me. Even though I have followed a different path in life, football is still something I religiously follow and make time for it from my busy schedule. Cricket being the predominant sport in this country, football is starting to regain its status. Football champion Sunil Chhetri’s emotional plea was a trigger for the silent watchers to lend their heart as well as their voices. With the promotion and spread of ISL, the people who didn’t have the money or means to enjoy limelight, now have a chance to make it big. Even though as time progresses, and the professional life gets in the way, the joy of playing football at least once a week cannot be provided by any drug or food or getaway. It acts as a stress buster, a toxin that induces happiness and something that bonds people no matter who”.
BRATATI BARAL, OP