The energy and unity a sports game generates especially in India makes us a nation that merits some of its success by the victories won in the sports arena. But there are very few who can detect one underlying problem we face today: abundance of talent that needs pruning and the lack of it. One such ardent sports fan who decided to not just be an audience to this game, is Vishal Chordia a young industrialist from the food and beverage industry and director of Pravin Masale, owners of popular brand Suhana.. In a conversation with Pune 365, Chordia discussed the role Pune city will be playing in the upcoming Rio Olympics of 2016 and how after adding “masala” to the lives of millions across Maharashtra, sports been his second innings.
“It all began in 2009 as a chat over dinner, some of my sports enthusiastic friends and I were discussing the sports environment in India, a usual critique kind of discussion. That’s when we thought instead of criticising why don’t we do something of value.” This initiated the crux of the Lakshya Foundation, an athlete management cell that recognises the potential in budding talents from all over the country, be it those from the rural area who do not enjoy urban comforts and require the expert training or the privileged ones as well. Lakshya has previously supported athletes like shooter Rahi Sarnobot, shuttlers Jwala Gutta, Ashwini Ponnappa and V Diju, boxer Pooja Rani, tennis player Ankita Raina and chess grandmaster Vidit Gujrathi.
Currently, Lakshya is supporting 16 young athletes from various sports like tennis, badminton, chess, shooting and boxing. These athletes have not just performed fiercely, but also have won silver on the international stage as well. Chordia proudly announces, that some of the players supported by the sports NGO such as Ravindra Khatri (wrestling 85kg category) and a few other players in the badminton and tennis verticals are aiming for a triumphant turnover at this year’s Olympics.
The confidence of making a mark at the Olympics is well-resilient in Chordia’s words, as he has been the head of a committee in charge of creating a roadmap with Rio Olympians 2016 their main target so that more players will not only qualify for Rio but also win medals. The President of an NGO that has no commercial interests and stays true to its objective of honing potential talent says, “We give our players 360-degree support, which includes mental toughness, injury management, diet planning and also conditioning camps where all the players come together for three to four days as an outbound activity and practice yoga and agility.” The immense dedication the organisation that has a structured training programme with experienced mentors is reflected as Chordia tells us about the process, “We have experts on board and a player management team that works in collaboration to bring out the talent, which studies the individual and decides who is eligible. The selection is very processed driven with no personal interference.”
The training process for every sportsperson at Lakshya is extremely prolific reflecting the promise of 360-degree support, “We catch them young and make sure we are part of their journey,” says Chordia. He goes on to narrate the need for not only technical support but emotional strength as well. This Olympics, Lakshya has made it possible for Ravindra Khatri’s parents who are farmers by profession to watch their son live at Rio. “The kind of emotional support Ravindra will get while seeing his parents watch him fulfill his dream will motivate him further,” adds Chordia. The training and mentoring that takes place at Lakshya is what makes it possible for girls like PrarthanaThombare, who belongs to a small village in Maharashtra to play with the likes of Sania Mirza.
Bringing the country glory is not where the dreams of Lakshya and Vishal Chordia end, but some future plans reveal what is next in store for Pune city. “We have plans to create an excellent centre, where we can provide 360 degree support to general public under one roof,” this idea has risen from the lack of opportunities for those who arepassionate about sports and are unaware of any place they can visit and get guidance on diet and injury management and basic accessories to use. As running and cycling are sports that are fast catching up with the city’s enthusiasts, Chordia recognises the need to start this, “Lakshya will be able to give this kind of sports orientation to everyone which is part of everyone’s life.”
The work does not need to be restricted to government organisations or certain groups, everyone can be a part of the change as the country has abundance scope for improvement, says Chordia, adding: “People are more aware about sports health fitness. Lakshya aims to play a role in society like India where people want to contribute but don’t know the route.”
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