What’s the Govt Doing for Our Sport Stars? 9-Time National Champ Now Works as Farm Labourer


What’s the Govt Doing for Our Sport Stars? 9-Time National Champ Now Works as Farm Labourer

Illustration: Reynold Mascarenhas

The coronavirus has hit everyone hard, and sportspersons are no different. With outdoor sports largely shut, financial prospects are bleak. While cricketers can sign million-dollar ad deals even in lockdown, the situation is quite grim for those representing lesser-known sports.

Wushu and kickboxing player from Haryana, Shiksha, is one such example. The nine-time national champion, who has also won 24 medals at the state level, is working as a farm labourer to make ends meet.

Shiksha is pursuing a BSc (Sports Science) course in Rohtak. She has been engaged as a farm labourer and gets ₹200-300 per day depending on the work done by her. Her parents Pyare Lal and Raj Devi also work as casual labourers under the MGNREGA scheme.

By her own admission, she has not received any financial support or aid from the government during these tough times. “I have not got any financial support or diet allowance from the government. I had applied for a job with the ITBP under sports quota, but my application was rejected. I want to represent my country at the international level, but I am not able to practice as I have to work and earn money for our sustenance,” Shiksha said while talking to The Tribune.

Shiksha’s mother pointed out that despite winning medals, no help has come from anywhere. The pandemic has only added to their woes. She is not able to practice and has to do other alternate work like sowing paddy to get by.

District Sports Officer Sukhbir Singh said he would get the matter examined and do the needful. “She should have got cash awards owing to her performance in the sports championships. I will look into the matter and ensure that she gets her dues,” he said.

Social media users raised their voice for Shikha and brought her case to the attention of Minister of State for Youth Affairs and Sports, Kiren Rijiju. “She is working as a farm labourer. Medal kaise aayenge?” asked one user.

“What is the government doing for champions,” many asked.

While we are ready to celebrate with our sporting heroes when they win medals and make the country proud, rarely do we peek behind the scenes to know how much support they got from the system and the kind of hardships they had to face. If we want to take pride in their victories, we must also ensure that the journey to that medal is made as easy as possible. When athletes focus on what they do best, it will lead to better outcomes. We can start with Shiksha.