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Mr. Saurabh Mishra
Founder & Director - (Khel Mitra)


Athlete Management : My perspective & Experience

It is said that Indian Athlete do not win because of the system, but despite the system. If that is the case , one can understand that job of athlete management is no lesser than a Herculean task. My experience of working with some top athletes in the country is not exception to this aphorism. For someone like me, who considers it the most fulfilling job to become the part of the struggle and to contribute to the success of those who alone have the privilege to raise the national flag on their shoulder when national anthem is played in front of the world, it’s naturally an exciting experience. However, the other side of this job is to deal with a callous system wherein complexities of procedure are as much a norm as efficiency is an exception. It’s a system which revolves around the bureaucratic inertia, administrative apathy and insensitivity of sports federations.Nevertheless, in the continuous pursuit of finding the true purpose of life, my soul is in my element with unflinching determination which far outweighs the ordeals posed by the system. Managing an athlete and that too, a world class, requires the highest level of perseverance. You have to accept both good and bad encounters with equanimity. You must have the quality of striking a captivating balance between the athlete’s comfort and obligation to various institutional stakeholders. The different aspects of athlete management , in the light of my own experience ,can be explained in following ways :

Communication Management : 

The first and foremost thing which makes an athlete uncomfortable is communication. Whether it is a correspondence through letters or via emails, sportspersons find it tedious to write or reply any formal communication. Their technological advancement is just confined to social media. Currently, I have the email ids and passwords of 4 of the top international athletes in the country.  Making the matter worse is the fact that in most of the cases I have realised that even top international Indian athletes do not have the knowledge of working and even some basic English. Moreover, filling the whereabout details on ADAMS which is essential for Doping test purpose, is another inconvenience that athletes face. Many times I have filled up such details on athletes behalf. In a recent case an international athlete was served with a notice of whereabouts failure from AIU (Athlete Integrity Unit) of WADA. Thus the implications of this simple looking process could turn out to be serious. 

Sponsorships and legal Management :

Getting sponsorships for athletes is one of the most vital requirement in athlete management. For an average international athlete, its still a distant dream to become a brand ambassador of a multinational company. Given the fact that sports has become expensive and support from government or federations is not sufficient for the most of athletes, you will have to push the envelope to generate funds usually from CSR to fulfil the training requirement of athletes.If such efforts bear fruits, athletes being unaware of technical know-how of agreements and contracts, it becomes the responsibility of manager to take care of such things. In some cases, I had actually negotiated the terms of contract in order to make it more favourable for the athletes. If your athlete happens to face doping charges, you need to stand by him like solid rock and mage his all legal affairs.

Logistics and Event Management :

To fulfil the day-to-day requirement of an athlete may not be the job of an athlete manager but in my case it was as much important to do as other things in view of the fact that I was closely involved with top athletes in the run up to the most important event of their lives – Olympics. So I had to ensure that athlete did not get to indulge in anything which engenders any aberration in his daily routine. For , during the preparation of a competition, athlete’s life does not move beyond the distance between his resident to training place.

Training Management :

I wouldn’t be exaggerating if I say that it is the most onerous part of athlete management. Especially in India, where athletes lack the understanding of nuances of world class training, techniques and diet ; athlete manager has to build a proper team ,which includes coach, physical and conditioning trainer, dietician, psychological expert and others. Given the fact that there is no institution in India providing world class sports science expertise, it becomes an arduous task for managers to ensure availability of these things.Apart from these, you would be doing one of the most gruelling works in India if you are dealing with Babus and officials of ministry and federations. I have the most hands on experience of running from pillar to post for many months to get sanction for training of my athlete and to get funds released for the same. Many times I felt totally frustrated to the extent of crying alone and letting these things bother to my athlete. I witnessed all the ills associated with this oppressive system and came to know exactly why India do not win many medals in Olympics.

Health Management :

Contrary to general perception, the body of an athlete is more sensitive than that of common people. So in order to stave off any potential disease or injury, the athlete manager needs to keep himself on his toes in assisting the athlete because a simple disease can put the athlete behind few weeks on his training schedule. Moreover, a simple injury, if not taken care of properly, may result in complete rest from several months to years and to the extent of ending the career of the athlete.With India ranks 3 rd in doping, both intentional and unintentional, dietary planning becomes extremely important. In view of the fact that there is no institutional mechanism in the country whereby an athlete can secure a dope free highly beneficial food supplements, the manager needs to be fastidious. He needs to coordinate with all the stakeholders and give an impeccable consultation and sometimes procurement of supplements to the athlete. A bit of carelessness may lead to an untimely death of his career.

PR and Media Management :

In a country obsessed with cricket, it’s a challenging task to find space in newspapers, not to speak of tv. I remember visiting the offices of various media houses and requesting them to give small coverage for my athletes when they won medals. PR and media management is directly related to brand building exercise of athlete which in turn helps add value in the brand of athletes. It was one of the main reasons by which I managed to get a handsome amount for my athlete through crowdfunding. Moreover, PR exercise is crucial for damage control if any negative news related to athletes spreads. In this regard social media presence is also of significant value which makes way for the athlete to get the status of celebrity.

Personal Management :

If you are residing with an athlete, you need to ensure that not even a single thing should bother an athlete. You just don’t have to take care of every aspect of sports life but many times you need to stand behind him like a pillar to support him emotionally as well. As athletes lead a very disciplined life and even the slightest of things have the potential to make him angry. Many times you will have to tolerate the illogical whims of the athletes. He can take the toughest test of your patience. The fall and rise in the life of an athlete are bound to occur. You need to motivate him consistently if his daily training schedule does not go as per the planning our wish. This responsibility turns many folds if he doesn’t perform well
in the competitions.

Conclusion :

They say that sports do not build character, they reveal it. As per my experience, they reveal the character of the athlete manager as well. Athlete management is not one of the easiest things to do in this world. It takes a lot of patience, perseverance , empathy and understanding ,etc. You must be well rounded person and not let the little things bother you. You need to be responsible for your actions and keep up to date on different events. In one line, I can say that the role of an athlete manager is like an umbrella. You need to protect your athlete from the rains of worldly obstacles to minimise his struggle in his journey to the success as much as possible.

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Mr. Deckline Leitao
(Fitness Expert)





This is the most basic mistake that is often made by many who are associated with the fitness industry. You can earn a decent living in this field but don't aim to own a Rolls Royce someday by doing fitness coaching.

This is a field where most of the business and management principles fail because the product is the professional, not the place or equipments. Also the product that we serve to getting fitter or performing rehabilitation is not an immediate necessity of life for most unlike medical care. Yes, read the above line again - coz that's a truth that's better understood sooner than later. It is for this very reason that many businesspeople burn their fingers in this field because their regular principles and experience of business just don't cut it here.No wonder a lot of gyms/fitness businesses close down because they simply apply the principles of product marketing while forgetting the human element in it. Aim to be a good service provider, not a forceful service seller. Don't be the guy who forces clients to buy supplements or packages so that you can make your cut. You might make 100 or 1000 bucks, but you will lose 100000 worth of credibility and trust if you hard sell. The truth is that this field is like that of a doctor. The doctor cures - not the hospital! So rather focus on being like a good doctor, than simply aiming to build your own huge hospital. So in your quest to make more money don't spread yourself too thin or your quality will drop. Can you think of any of the best trainers in the world who ended up in the 100 richest people on the planet? The answer is a simple no. If making large amounts of money is your sole aim then it's better to choose another profession or you'll end up bitter in the fitness field in the long run. There will be tough and challenging times in this profession, and I've been through them a couple of times as well, and it's never smooth sailing all the time. I believe that Success in fitness coaching is a journey, not a destination.You can also compare this field to being like a chef. As long as the chef cooks well people come for the food. In the same manner as long as the trainer trains well people will come for training.A restaurant without a great chef but with great ambience - Can impress you once but not forever.
Try to be like a master chef who is good with his skills and you will never be out of work! And let your work be the judge not your own judgement.




Going through hundreds of certifications and degrees while not understanding your students/clients needs is really a waste. When a client comes to you, listen to them and understand their problem/s. Find out what help they need from you. Shoving your knowledge down a clients throat is not what they pay you for - but do go through that knowledge in your head to find out what will be the best applicable approach for that particular client.
But just because you have done a new course on a certain topic doesn't mean that you have to try it out on your client. Ask yourself and your students if they need this first in the first place.

In my whole career no client/student has ever asked me to show my credential certificates...this is so because the client doesn't really care much what or where you studied - ACSM, NASM, NSCA, ACE, ISSA or whatever else you've done. Whether you possess a certificate, diploma, degree, masters or PhD's only useful to the client as long as you can be of help for them in their fitness and strength and conditioning goals.

Qualifications don't make us better or greater - good work does.

Remember that when we complete our qualifications there are probably 30 or 50 others that finish along with us, and we're only as good as that whole group from a qualification point of view. Getting qualified is really the easiest part.

Qualifying is like a marriage ceremony...just an easy ritual and piece of paper. Living it successfully is an altogether different ball game.

So remember that your results will show your work. That's the bottom line.

Also clients and students aren't really interested in how hard you can punch, or how much you can bench press, or how long you can run, or how well defined your six-pack is (all these are good for you!)- but the client truly and rightfully only cares about what you can do for them.
Therefore, ask what's in it for them, not you!

So respect your clients/students because they are your bread and butter.




I'll repeat, learn anatomy and kinesiology to become good at it. Because this is always going to be the base on which all exercise techniques, routines and programming will be done. Without a good base in anatomy and kinesiology you will never understand which muscles are being used and what actions are taking place.
Look at exercises and movements three-dimensionally. You should know which muscles work in a certain action/s, the plane of motion, type of muscle contraction, etc and how speed, load and position influences their roles.

This might sound harsh but nothing is more unprofessional then when you are chatting/texting on the phone, checking yourself out in the mirror, joking with colleagues or sitting down while training students/clients. Ask yourself how would you take such behaviour if you were the paying client?


Never take them for granted because they pay your bills really!




We often get caught up in trying to find the newest method of training or exercises, and end up forgetting the simple basics of training. A plyometric move might look great but first ask yourself if the student/client has enough base muscle endurance and strength to be able to take it.

If you can do it doesn't mean your clients should do it.


I have also made this mistake in my career where I looked out for new moves hoping that it helps, but unless the 'old' is optimally prepared for the 'new' it won't be effective - if you know what I mean.
Teaching rope slams to someone who can't even flex pain-free at the hips and knees and for someone with poor upper body strength is only going to look tough till something breaks. Keep it simple and specific to the client/student.



If you're interested in working with sportspersons then buckle up and humble down because simply making a student sweat it out is not good enough here. It is definitely the next level of coaching and can be very exciting.

But don't get too carried away thinking that you were the reason if your player or team wins :-) Just ask yourself and the player if they became stronger and fitter under you. If you did that then you've done your limited job.

Whether it's an Olympic athlete or a school level sportsperson, our job is to ensure that we improve their strength and conditioning because both come to us and pay us for the same intention.
So they should both be equally important.

Whenever a player or team wins everybody right from the sponsor, parents, coaches, strength coaches, physiotherapists, supplement company, nutritionists, masseur, manager, academy, equipment manufacturer and many others are either given credit or take credit.
All the above do play specific roles in a players making. But it's only the sportsperson thats really great because he/she ends up using all that's at their disposal at the right time. Which is why out of every country, province, city, zone, academy, school, class, etc only a few excel though their colleagues too have the same access.

Remember that there are two basic roles that we can play in what is really required by the athlete from us - to get them stronger(fitter) or to rehabilitate them out of an injury.

Do whichever is your expertise and do what they pay you for...and stick to that.

Don't become the marriage counsellor to your clients no matter how good you think you are at that. Stick to what you have studied/practiced and what you get paid for 

It's a bitter truth to swallow for us 'experts' but Champion's in sport are born no matter what we might think.

if Michael Phelp's coaches and the whole team gets together and copy his complete training schedule, diet plan, strength routine and recovery protocols to the T, can they create another Phelps?
If you answered yes to that, then you really deserve the Noble prize for your thinking ;-)

Just thank god for giving you the opportunity to work with sportspersons and just get them strong, but always remember that you can't make them win, they do that.

If you work in physically demanding individual sports then it's going to be even harder because there is no 'team'-work' that makes the players win.

And do remember that different sports have different fitness requirements. Don't have a simple "Train hard or go home approach" and then make a chess player lift like an Olympic lifter just to make yourself look hard, and in the process give them a lower back strain. Then you did really make them go home, never to return to you .

Majority of sportspersons train at a much higher level than what most of us trainers can ever do. We're nowhere close to them. The strength and conditioning programming only assists a sportsperson no matter what our ego tells us because - They win medals in the ring/court/field/track, etc not in the gym.
So dump your ego too in the toilet every morning.

Also don't get caught up in your own greatness if someone training under you wins a competition, because then you will the lose focus on what's really important - which is coaching.

In my opinion if you are getting paid for your service then there is nothing great in whatever you're doing. The real great people are those who give up steady careers to help the old, sick, poor, war-affected, etc.

It's funny how as fitness coaches we are quick to take credit/compliments and averse to any criticism. Both are to be respected simply as other peoples good or bad opinions and should be taken thankfully - and then we should get back to what we are paid to do- which again is coaching fitness.

Personal training, strength and conditioning, gym instruction, etc are still new professions really. Our grandfathers didn't do it. And as much as we might like to think that we can build champions through our 'new-age' expert fitness training - strong physical specimens and champions like Pele, Ali, Bruce Lee, Schwarzenegger and Maradona and many others existed long before fitness was really packaged as a science. Point is that Champions are born and we're just lucky to be around them in gods scheme of things.

And don't forget that the technical coach and the sportsperson are always going to be the boss, because it's they who really know what needs to be done in the sport to improve playing technique and win.
If only fitness could win medals then every super-fit person in the gym would be an Olympic medallist. Truth is that it is their sport specific skills, and not just muscles or fitness alone, that make a Cristiano Ronaldo, Kobe Bryant, Nadal and others champions in their sports. Our teaching does have a role to play but don't get too carried away by it.


But after all this, if you still feel that a sportsperson/team wins mainly because of your great contribution to make them fit, then you too deserve a Noble Prize for revolutionary thinking .




Keep an open mind to learn and watch. Fitness coaching is not hard science. Two atoms of hydrogen and one atom of oxygen makes water. But two identical training programmes won't give you the same results with two people, which is why fitness training is an art as much as a science.

Keep an eye out for what colleagues and competitors do and like Bruce Lee said Absorb what is useful, Discard what is not. Add what is uniquely your own.

Don't get into the mine better than yours approach. Humans have messed up the world by doing this to religions. Let's not do this to fitness. There is always something to learn for everyone from the various systems of yoga, Cross-fit, bodybuilding, corrective exercise, martial arts, power lifting, dance aerobics, etc. None of them is the best just like there is no best style of fighting in a real situation. The move that worked at that particular time is the best.

Also accept that some clients will move away from you and begin training with others due to various reasons. This is part of the profession. Don't get personal if someone decides to train elsewhere for whatever reason. Just stick with what you're good at and keep doing that because it's all that matters.

Share a bit of what you know to fresher people in the field. It's like sharing food...only when you share some of what you have, do you make place for more on your plate.

Do and say good to others and it will come back to you somewhere/sometime.
Do and say bad to others and it will come back to you somewhere/sometime.
Choice is yours.


Karma is for real and god doesn't have time to wait and settle your karma accounts till your next life. You clear all your dues m, sooner or later, right here on planet earth ;-)



Lots of new or young trainers get into this field thinking about how they will someday train a celebrity or famous person. Remember that the famous person too only has a human body and it's important that you work with them equally professionally. Ask yourself and your client (celebrity or regular) as to what you have achieved in the time that they spent with you.

In short - treat everyone like a celebrity!

You can't be the best in fitness coaching because there is no competition to judge the best. The famous trainers and the not so famous trainers all do the same job, and truly speaking no one is better than the other because there is no way to judge that really speaking.

So don't try to beat others - beat yourself at your own work.


In the same manner there is no certificate or degree to certify you as 'Expert trainer' or 'Celebrity trainer'. In my opinion both are just meaningless tags really.




It takes around 3 to 5 years to really gain experience and confidence to do a good job. Getting a degree or certificate after your course is just a piece of paper if you don't have good work to show. Just focus on doing a good job consistently over the years and everything else will fall into place.


Don't focus too much on competitors or yourself as well. Focus on the work that you are doing and like I said earlier the best way to know if you're doing good is to ask your clients and to check the results.




You might work with women with very well-maintained body's who would feel very comfortable wearing shorts, tights, sports bras, etc. Hold your horses and treat them with the same respect your girlfriend, wife or sister deserves.
Stand beside them and not in front when they perform exercises that require bending down such as stiff-legged deadlift, push ups, etc. Turn your face away when they they feel uncomfortable coming out of a posture, exercise, machine, etc

It is also your duty to be aware of how to make a lady client be comfortable when she is training in a location when many men are around.

If you have to touch a body part such as the scapular stabilisers or the legs to point out a specific muscle contraction then so by putting your finger tips on that area or better still with a pen. Don't place your open palm on a given body part or area.


Do not make them do stretches in awkward positions where you make the female client feel uncomfortable - such as holding them from behind while standing or making them lie on the floor with their legs in awkward positions.




Check if your clothes stink of sweat. Along with regular washing also soak your t-shirts and workout apparel in soap for one hour once every fortnight to deep clean your clothes. Due to the physical nature of our work we trainers actually stink more than we assume.
Use underarm roll ons or better still, shave off your armpits. Wear clean socks and as it's quite disgusting for a client to perform floor exercises while a trainer with smelly socks/shoes walks around them.
Stuff newspaper inside your shoes when you reach home to keep them dry. And keep your socks open to dry instead of rolling them into a ball. Place naphthalene balls in the area around your shoes.
Keep a bottle of listerine in your bag and use it whenever you eat strong flavoured foods with onions and garlic. Don't scratch your head or bum or dig your nose while speaking to clients. If you sneeze then cover your nose with a handkerchief or your hands and immediately wash them after.
Nothing is worse than a smelly and stinking trainer in an enclosed AC gym.



A mentor who is himself successful can show you what it takes to do a good job. Learn from another professional from a different field such as a successful accountant, doctor, chef, etc because they can teach without feeling insecure to share their views as you wouldn't be competition.
But choose a mentor wisely - or it will be a case of blind leading the blind




Take it easy with coaching and training. Don't forget to enjoy the journey of teaching/coaching. Sometimes many of us, especially, sports trainers get too caught up in the discipline aspect. Discipline is important but you have to be known for your expertise more than the discipline, because anybody can be strict but not everybody can teach well. At the end of the day, you are paid for what work you can do with the clients, not to create fake military commandos in the gym :-))

Also if a famous person trains with you, then don't get get carried away thinking that you too are a celeb . Keep it real!

We need to have wings to fly to achieve our dreams...but we need our feet too when we come back to ground. Stay balanced.



Like I said earlier, our grandfathers didn't do the job that we are doing because it didn't exist, so we don't really have history to look upto for guidance.
But hopefully our grandchildren can look upto the work and professionalism that we will create in the fitness industry.
So do good work now so that your work stays in demand even when you become a grandfather!

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Saji Chacko
The writer is a senior journalist and Consulting Editor of Khel Mitra


Nihal Sarin – the 16 year old prodigy who defeated Magnus Carlsen in an unofficial match

A couple of years ago, Nihal Sarin was struggling to find his feet in the tough world of senior chess. Now, the 16-year-old prodigy  has the world at his feet—especially after his recent epoch  win over world champion Magnus Carlsen.

Even though the Kerala prodigy had beaten Magnus in an ‘unofficial’ blitz match, the ramifications of that win  go well beyond another statistic in the nascent pro life of the Indian. For someone like Nihal, the win over Carlsen, the world champion since 2013,  was the catalyst which the youngster needed to kickstart his career at the senior level.

“It was an online game (on stream) and I was his (Magnus’s) second last opponent. Somehow I felt it was going to be my day and played my best. I also feel that in a player’s career there comes such a moment when a certain win gives him that x factor,” he said.

There was no doubting Nihal’s talent and class ever since he won the World under 10 titles in both classic and blitz  respectively and followed it up with a runner up effort in the under 12 World Championshps the following year. He became a Grandmaster at the tender age of 14, announcing himself as a likely successor to Viswanathan Anand.

But then there remained a very dodggy factor. There were a lot of talented Indian junior players like Gukesh and Praggnadhaa both of whom achieved their GM norms at 12 years—but these were not able to make the succesfull transition from the junior to the senior ranks.  So would that also be the case with Nihal who would remain just another talented junior who failed to make his presence felt at the senior level.

To take Nihal’s game to the next level, there was  a need to  identify and hire a good coach. Someone who himself played the sport at the highest level and was communicative also. He hired the services of  Srinath Narayanan, who is a GM himself.  

Nihal Sarin

Nihal Sarin

With so many achievements at such a tender age, Nihal also showed his prowess at the senior level when he managed to ekk out a draw against the much higher tanked and  illustrious opponent Viswanathan Anand  in the Tata Steel tournament held in 2018. That time Nihal played with white and it was a close affair which the youngster showed that he hold out against the best.  “That draw against Anand was a big moral booster for me. “ he added.

In fact, Anand was very impressed by Nihal that he went on say that (in Nihal) he saw the potential of a future world champion. Anand added,” It’s quite tough to play Nihil when he plays with white. “


Blitz is Nihal’s forte. This format is like the T20 of chess and each player has virtually no time to think and ponder his next move. Nihal, whose disinterested style on the board-- sometimes, scratching his head to even looking at his opponent’s eye—something rare in the chess world. His rational for this is simple---“ I want to show that one can win even while looking distracted in an intensely cerebral game like chess,” he opined.

But then there is no mistaking his intent to win.  The fierce competitior that he is, Nihal tends to remember his loses more. “If one rememebers the losses, then it acts as a catalyst or motivating factor. But I also do remember my important wins”.he adds with a chuckle.

One hopes he has more reasons to smile in the future also.

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Saji Chacko
The writer is a senior journalist and Consulting Editor of Khel Mitra


The curious case of Neeraj Chopra and Amit panghal in Khel Ratna

Any awards by default can be a contentious issue. When it comes to the Khel Ratna, the Holy Grail of the national sports award, controversy is bound to be there with its set of commissions and ommisions. The Khel Ratna 2020 has also been ‘plagued’ by the omission of at least two of India’s top sportspersons. It seems that Neeraj Chopra and Amit Pangal always end up as the eternal bridesmaids.

For the last three years now, javelin thrower Neeraj and boxer Amit have been shortlisted for these awards, yet missed out during the final stage. The year 2020 proved to be no different as cricketer Rohit Sharma, table tennis player Manika Batra, wrestler Vinesh Phogat, hockey player Rani Rampal and para athlete Mariappan Thangavelu have been recommended for the Khel Ratna.

Neeraj Chopra 

It must be worth mentioning here that Neeraj won the rare double of Asian Games and Commonwealth gold in 2018---and a certain awardee this time after he was pipped in 2018 and 2019 by Mirabai Chanu and Bajrang Punia respectively. A lot of eyebrows were raised then—it was different this year also. And when one thinks that there is less than a year to go for the Tokyo Olympics, the Khel Ratna would have been a shot in the arm for the 22-year-old.

There is little doubt that Neeraj’s achievements are much more than Manika Batra, who won the CWG gold siliver and bronze (in singles, doubles and mixed doubles). Apart from this she also won a bronze medal at the Asian Games. It seems that the selection committee may have deemed that Manika’s’ achievements were greater since she won more medals as against Neeraj’s tally of two gold. Neeraj not making the Khel Ratna for the third year in running is quite baffling indeed. 

Similarly, Amit Pangal’s credentials to be crowned with the Khel Ratna was better than most. For not only is the 24-year-old ranked No.1 in the world, he has won a silver at the World Championships and a gold at the Asian Games and Asian Boxing Championships. Amit might be left to wonder what more he has to achieve in order to make him worthy of the Khel Ratna.

Amit Panghal

The one blip which Amit has in an otherwise chequered history is that he inadvertently took dope in 2012.  Since that incident, he has apologised, moved on and made a niche for himself. But then it seems the selection committee gave weightage to dope allegation against him.

The Khel Ratna 2020 winners have been decided but the ommission of Amit and Neeraj will linger on.

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Priyanka Rajput


Football & me - From being affectionately called Wayne Rooney to working in a 9 to 6 job

Never thought one announcement would change my life to this extent that it will bring in a totally different personality out of me. To be honest i love and adore this me. I still remember it very well i was in 7th grade when some girls walked into our class to ask for names for inter house football tournament. As soon as i hear the announcement, some kind of rush went through my veins and my brain all of sudden responded “go for it”. I am someone who always prefer to listen to heart before brain. But that day~ miracles do happen. I signed up for that small school level league and i never realised that there a’int going back from there. When i started my family was a bit hesitant coz their ideology about girl playing sport was quiet sophisticated. Common claims like who will marry you if you will break your leg and bla bla, list it too long. But god’s grace i was lucky enough that my father supported me in all these situations. His efforts and motivating nature has always kept me going and i’ll always be grateful for it. Starting with small league then to inter school then state team and finally then to Indian team camp, i have played all the positions in football. Most of my coaches considered me as that stepney which fits anywhere anytime needed. This was my coaches statement when i was a part of Delhi senior team squad for National games. Not just this the reason why i fell in love with Wayne Rooney is also one of my coaches contribution. No doubt he is a great player and i am lucky that i get to be called by his name. Playing a sport that has so many superstition as a combo isn't all a smooth ride at all. It wont always have a happy side to it. Playing to any level and any kind of sport in our country has a hell lot of history behind it. I too faced it all. Starting from lying at home just to practice to I facing criticism for playing a men’s sport. Then to being alienated coz i chose to play a challenging sport. To face a-lot of issues regarding my regular practice even during football season. And had to cycle twice a day to school for practice coz i never wanted to be a burden to my family for my choice and interests. The list could go on. But i always came across all the issues, barriers just coz i was passionate about my sport. So passionate that even after been working for last 4 yeas in a 9-6job i still find time to practice, play, represent the state team of Karnataka as Vice Captain. Yeah i have represented Rajasthan, Delhi, Karnataka’s state teams. Not bragging about myself but yeah i was awarded as the highest goal scorer and the best player of tournament for CBSE zonal’s and many other tournaments too. Any given point if asked what bring the best in you ill always have one word in my mind is FOOTBALL.

Being a biker and a footballer shares my passion equally. Apart from being a biker i have done many track race events and was a part of the One make championship track racing squad (200CC) for the year 2019. Owning my bike and riding it all over the country has been a really great experience and has added a-lot to my learnings. The extent of love towards my riding journeys is this much that i have started vlogging my ride experiences on youtube.

I have always been a person with out of the box choices and decisions which always made my life more courageous and adventurous & “helps me in breaking the stereotypes”.

I am and will always continue to be a part of this different pool of people, coz it helps me in testing my limits and Be you & Be different.

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Saji Chacko
The writer is a senior journalist and Consulting Editor of Khel Mitra


A lot of pegging for Tent Pegging

Heading International Conference on Tent Pegging  a major event

Traditionally, Tent Pegging has been the forte of Indian riders- evidence of this comes in the form of Indian riders winning the gold medal in this event at the Asian Games in 1982. Unfortunately, this discipline was stopped from the Olympic fold. Now in an attempt to revive this sport for the next Asian Games in China (2022), the road map to ensure Tent Pegging gets its due back in the Olympic fold, an international equestrian webinar was held. Among other things discussed was the road ahead to be taken for the sport of tent pegging which the delegates felt should have its right place under the sun.

The inaugural International Conference on Equestrian Tent Pegging & its Future, an initiative of  Equiwings Sports in association with Federation for Promotion of Global Economic & Cultural Relations (FGECR) was organised on Saturday.

The Road for Tent Pegging to become an Olympic Sport was discussed in detail and the road-map for Development of the Sport Internationally particularly in the Asian Region was discussed. The Asian Equestrian Federation (AEF) Tent Pegging Committee has decided to re-introduce Tent Pegging in ASIAN GAMES in China in 2022. Tent Pegging was last played in Delhi Asian Games in 1982, where India had won a gold medal.

The Webinar brought together all stake holders of Equestrian Tent Pegging from across the globe. The stake holders are primarily the Tent Pegging players at International, National, State and Local levels along-with Tent Pegging Coaches, Administrators, Promoters, National Federations, Clubs, Schools, Sponsors, Service Providers, Sports Event Managers, Sports Journalists, TV Broadcasters and Equipment Manufacturers.

The main objective of this conference was able to disseminate the latest information from the Leaders of Tent Pegging Fraternity and also an attempt to take stock of the work done in the last decade. 

Another very important topic which was discussed in this platform was what the future holds for Tent Pegging around the world. The Conference will also outline the scope and opportunities offered by the pursuant of the Sport.

The Conference held in the backdrop of India’s Ajay Sawant being conferred with India’s prestigious ARJUNA AWARD for his International performance in Tent Pegging. Some of the leading luminaries who took part in this webinar include the President –International Tent Pegging Federation (ITPF), Dalene Baksa (Head, women’s committee-ITPF), Paul Brown (President, British Tent Pegging Association and European Tent Pegging Federation, Mohd Salim Al Maliki, Maj Gen  N.S. Rajpurohit (Ex member – Equestrian Federation of India), Col Jaiveer Singh (Secy Gen, EFI) and Brijesh Mathur,

On his part, Sheikh Md Issa Al Fairuz ,President ITPF, said that the world body has been quite proactive when it came to promoting the cause of Tent Pegging. “We at the ITPF have been at the forefront of furthering the cause of Tent Pegging. It demands a high level of skill from both man and horse. Let’s see how it all pans out in the coming time,” he added.

The Conference had representation from Top Equestrian Tent Pegging Administrators from all continents. The total online registration of the conference reached 722 from 19 countries like Oman, India, Germany, USA, Pakistan, Nepal, Norway, Canada, Egypt, Sudan, UAE, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, South Africa, Great Britain, Morocco, Yemen and Australia.

“As India is a leading force in promotion & development of Equestrian Tent Pegging, the future development course will likely be more dependent on India to take this Sports & its players to the next level,” opined Ahmad Afsar whose company Equiwings was instrumental in hosting the webinar. ,Afsar is also  a former coach and manager of Indian Tent Pegging Team. He was also the coach of Team India which had Ajay Sawant. 

“The Federation for Promotion of Global Economic & Cultural Relations (FGECR), the organiser of the Conference conveyed their full support for the development of Tent Pegging,” said Brijesh Mathur, President of FGECR.  Sachin Vats, Chairman of Gurukul Horse Riding Club and Vice-President of FGECR thanked all International Speakers and participants who made the conference a super success.

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Deepak Ajmera


How I fell in love with football

Hi, my name is Deepak, and this is my story.

It was the year 2008 and i was in my 8th class, just being a normal teenager, goofing around with friends and playing video games all day. Academics was not my strong suit and the only thing I related to was the sweat and tears of the sportsmen. But in this cricket crazy country, i was the odd one out as i didn't really like cricket, football always intrigued me, i spent hours of Youtube trying to watch the skill videos and highlights of the best players in the world and being in awe of the things that they could do with a ball at their feet.

While all the other boys took to cricket and had enough to build teams, I was generally the only one with a football trying to do the best I could alone. 

Everything changed when i switched schools and met another football fanatic friend and classmate, he saw me playing in the sports period and asked me to join him in the practice sessions of the school football team. This was a big thing from me, from having no one to play with, I now had the opportunity to train with the school team itself. I had finally found my place and never looked back, took up the challenge of playing with the seniors and learning from them and the coach and improved my game tremendously.

I now took part regularly in all kinds of tournaments from district to nationals and became a better player with each passing day. But as i moved on to college, the parents were worried about my inclination towards football and wanted me to focus more on my studies rather than football which was gonna pay me nothing. Now how can i tell them that the feeling of dribbling through an entire defence or setting up the perfect chip assist or blocking the most ferocious shot head on is a feeling which money can't buy?

Anyways, it's easy to say that I had no support from them, i remember once my father even tore the ball apart with a knife and warned me to focus on studies or the consequences would be bad. I had a terrible realization that day, if I having all the comforts of the world from a big house to cars to money etc was having so many issues, other talented kids from poorer backgrounds must be going through hell. It was then I decided to open a football academy for youngsters and underprivileged kids, it was really hard to convince my parents for this, but after my continuous tries, they didn't agree but left me alone to do what I wanted, this was a relief.


I teamed up with an NGO working for underprivileged kids and started my football academy, teaching those kids and giving them the opportunity to do better in their life, and to see them smile and work hard gave me all the satisfaction in the world that having big paychecks would never do.

All around me were kids whose parents worked multiple jobs like rag pickers, mason workers, labourers and other odd jobs to put 2 meals at the table. These kids had no primary education and couldn't even do basic maths or alphabets. I took this opportunity to not only teach them about football, but also about life, because well, football is life !

I trained them for daily needs, taught them basic life skills, gave them leadership and motivational training, helped them to become better academically and personally, i want them to become responsible individuals who could do better in their lives than odd jobs to satisfy their hunger, i tried to given them a platform to stand on their feet and to be able to keep their heads high. The hard work reaped fruits when the kids were able to win different competitions from calisthenics to football tournaments.

The training was going well when covid hit us, we were forced to close down our academy, but we didn't give up, we tried to keep in touch daily with video calls and virtual training. Most of these kids didn't have access to internet or multimedia phones, but we arranged something or the other, group sessions from a single phone, or neighbours phone etc, the kids too did their best and would update us daily about their progress by sending their videos whenever they can.

So well, this is my story till now, i would like to take this opportunity to thank you for giving me a platform to share my story and I hope that it can inspire others like me to come forward and help others in need.

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