Abhishek Kumar, 16, Squash player, Chandigarh
SUCCESS STORY Kumar won a gold medal at the All India Under-17 Khelshala tournament in Chandigarh in November. “I would love to play squash across the country and beyond,” says Kumar, who dreams of becoming a squash coach one day.
AGAINST ODDS Kumar says his mother’s illness is always on his mind. That it is never easy for someone from an underprivileged background trying to make a mark nationally. “But I know this sport will take me far and make people sit up and take notice,” says the young man who has been playing squash since the age of nine at Khelshala in Chandigarh.
COACH TALK Satinder Bajwa, the former coach of Harvard University’s squash team, who is the director of Chandigarh-based Khelshala, says, “Kumar is a committed player. Take my word for it—we are looking at the next national champion.” Bajwa has been working to uplift the living standards of youngsters from economically weaker sections through sports like squash and tennis.
ROAD BLOCKS Lamenting that the cost of the equipment and very few squash courts in the country discourage youngsters taking up this game, he adds, “Most squash court memberships are so expensive that students, especially those who do not come from privileged backgrounds, always find the gates closed.”