“Behind every fearless player is a fearless coach who refused to let them be anything but the best they can be” — Unknown
For any sports lover, nothing can provide as many enjoyable experiences over one’s lifetime as sports. Whether it’s playing marble games at lunch break in school or going to football tournament games with a few buddies when you’re a little older, fun is what first draws you to sports, and how and why it can successfully keep you hooked.
I do not remember the exact age when maa (mother) took me to Nurul Amin Stadium in Nagaon to watch players play different games. She asked me if I would want to learn any of those. Of all games, I was fascinated by table tennis the most. At that time, Janmoni Singh was the coach. Prior to the admission process, Singh Sir asked me to do some tasks such as meditation and skipping to test the concentration power and energy level. Surprisingly, I fared well, and from next day I started practising regularly.
As it is said, a great coach is one that has a vision, sets a plan in place, has the right people in place to execute that plan and then accepts the responsibility if that plan is not carried out [Mike Singletary], Singh Sir and few more another coaches namely Tapan Bose Sir and Inku Bhuyan were there for me throughout my career. From being a district champion to a state ranker and representing Assam and Delhi, I had been a professional player for twelve long years. And the love for this sport is only growing day by day. Although, I don’t find time to practise regularly these days, but on weekends I do try to play for an hour at a nearby sports bar in Noida.
To be a good player, I believe the will power is just not enough. One needs guidance, proper infrastructure, and a team to understand sportsmanship. When I got to know Proforce has come up with the first Archery and Fencing Training Centre for students at GD Somani Memorial School in Mumbai, I spoke to them to know what plans they have for this initiative.
How it works
Proforce Professional Services Pvt. Ltd., formed in 2014 is known for its dedication to professionalising sports education in India. Based on the proven ideology that playing sports right from childhood shapes an individual as a balanced and gratifying personality, Proforce combines professional expertise with structured sports coaching for school children. And under its “every child nutrition policy”, they provide customised diet plans curated by expert dieticians for every child as per Indian standards.
Launched a month ago, i.e. October 5, the academy (Archery and Fencing Training Centre) has received an overwhelming response with more than 30 students joining in from the school. Opened for children aged between 8 – 14, it can accommodate around 200 students in archery and fencing.
B.D. Seymour, Prinicpal, GD Somani says, “Archery and fencing are sports of discipline and focus. Since it involves these two attributes, there is a lot of commitment required which leads children to perfection without being distracted. I wanted to give our students every opportunity that Proforce as a professional organisation could possibly support in terms of training, equipment and their consistency. With this association, I look forward to see the students represent India in the near future.”
According to Seymore, the newly formed batches of 22 archers and 8 fencers have undergone 12 exhilarating sessions of extensive training.
In archery, the students are being trained by Coach Manjit Singh, a name that needs no introduction. The Delhiite has won more than 10 national medals in this sport. He is spearheaded by Captain Suhag; an ex-servicemen who has successfully completed the level 1 World Archery Coaches Course in 2015, and has represented India in World Archery Championship, winning several medals.
The ones in fencing are being trained under Santosh Shejwal, who has 15+ years of experience in fencing coaching. He has produced around ten national players, and is credited with producing a wheelchair bound fencer who has recently participated in World fencing competition.
Shejwal says, “I’m happy to see the progress of fencing in India. Slowly and steadily the sport is being recognised across the nation, all thanks to Somani School and Proforce who’ve come up with the initiative to introduce fencing in school. We have to strengthen the sport from root level to able to win medals in international circuit. As we have recently started fencing since a month, we have lot of work to do. We will start competing from next year and I’m hopeful to see some good result from this promising batch.”
Adding to Shejwal’s statement, Captain Sachin Sharma, Co-founder of Proforce says, “The participation in various games in India at the school level is decided by the popularity of the game. Archery and fencing, even after being approved by the school federation, there are very few schools having the facility to train the kids in these games. With a thought process of promoting these niche sports and popularising them, Proforce thought of initiating the requisite training for these niche sports.”
Curious to know how they decided on the coaches, I asked Sharma if they received any recommendations from any institution. Sharma says, “We consulted Army Sports Institute for recommending the right coaches, and thus we came up with the coaching team with the right credential to set the road map for the realisation of dreams Proforce has”.
What I feel is the best part
The organisation not just introduce sports in the curriculum, but also ensures a higher degree of involvement of school teachers, who tend to be aquainted with the persona of every child in the school by assigning each teacher the responsibility to supervise a sport category. This I feel, additionally helps Proforce enhance their training modules through teachers’ feedback and suggestions.
Also, I got to know from them that apart from fencing and archery, they regularly conduct sessions of sports such as cricket, football, handball, hockey, basketball, along with performing arts such as music and dance, and drama. Moreover, to develop confidence among the students, they even have engaging activities such as educational tools and military training installations.
We need more such initiatives
The country needs organisations like Proforce, only then we will see young minds flourishing in the broadest sense.
With engaging activities and sports, children can acquire leadership, learn to take risks and develop social skills. I’ve seen how sports stoke up a child’s innate joy and build confidence. In today’s world, where there’s too much communalism and violence, such activities will help children understand mutual respect, sharing and team spirit.
Cover image courtesy: microscope.co.uk