Bhaag Milkha Bhaag, Iruthi Suttru, Dangal and Chak de! India, to name a few. We are clearly a nation of sports lovers. Or rather, a nation filled with people who love to WATCH sports and related movies.
We cheer the medal winners of the various international tournaments and championships but, we expect our children to be class toppers.
We watch a movie that talks about dirty politics in sports, comment and like on social networking sites and then forget all about. Either that or discourage that far off relative from letting their children pursue a sport or sport related career.
We believe in the luck and bad luck brought around by the people watching a match at home, with little care or respect of the hours of practice an athlete has put in to give a winning performance.
Amongst this majority are a few people who have giving all their life, time and money for the sport they love.
This is a story of one such man.
With seven international athletes and numerous national and state level athletes who have grown under his guidance, he is one of those who select few who have sacrificed their life for the betterment of sports.
He started training of athletes in 1988, after completing his Diploma in Athletics from National Institute of Sports, Bangalore.
The athletic club though had begun a few years prior to this when five friends had decided to come together and start training athletes. And as of this year, they are celebrating their 34th anniversary.
But, before a coach, he was an athlete. One with several laurels under his name.
Being born in a family with a sports background, his dad a Table Tennis and Football player and his brothers and sisters all champions in their school years, he too was the champion through most of his school years. Following this he joined the Don Bosco Athletic Club, one of the most celebrated in the 1980s.
After this, he grew in the sports arena to become the Inter-University medalist, in 100m and 200m, for three consecutive years, 1982-1985. He has also won several medals in annually organized State meets.
His most prized moment, he says, is when he had received an award from M.G.Ramachandran, in his peak days. He says he still remembers the stiff handshake that accompanied the heartfelt congratulations he had received that day.
He also adds that pursuing a sport in those days, was not as easy as it is now. The facilities available were limited and grounds were far off. It gets worse when you don’t belong to a well-off family. The expenses on sports are rare and minimal, not enough to fulfil needs.
Luckily for him, in 1986, sports got him a job in Tamil Nadu Electricity Board, where he still works. He is now the Revenue Supervisor of TNEB. A job that isn’t related to any of his educational qualifications, a B.Sc. in Chemistry followed by a B.A. in Public Administration, but, based purely on sports merit.
I ask him about politics in those days and he says that it wasn’t as widespread or destructive as it is now. It was a rare, and a clear under-the-table, phenomenon.
From that athlete he has now become the coach of a well-known athletic club in Chennai where a number of students practice. He hasn’t lost his finesse and still produces National athletes on a regular basis.
His wife works in Central Excise, a job gained through sports, and regularly wins laurels for the nation in the masters (athletes above 30) championships.
Both his son and daughter are athletes, training under him and hoping to make it into the big league someday.
60% of his average day is spent on sports and his students.
He comes to the ground in the morning, trains students till around 8 a.m. He then goes for his job till around 4 in the evening after which he comes back to the ground.
The rest of the day goes by preparing for the various camps and championships, between which he helps out with some work at home.
About his work, he feels that if parents encouraged their children he would have an easier platform to train and build athletes. And this would also result a higher number of athletes to win laurels for the country. Because, a true star is usually a person with dedication, determination and physical and psychological fitness.
He is one of those people who stand behind and see his work do wonders. One of those people who stand behind the success of other people. One of those people, in a small possible way, working towards making our country a sports rich nation.