Saikrishana Hatangadi’s day starts very early considering that he is at BMC ground in the Five Gardens area of Dadar at 7 am to coach mentally and physically handicapped sports enthusiasts and anyone who wants to learn more about playing sport. In short, it’s a special summer camp. Since he is a former national handball player, much of the focus is on this sport. There are other reasons too.
“Handball is not very difficult. It’s a combination of football and basketball. Special people (handicapped) are gifted. They are good learners, who can adapt to the sport very easily. What’s merely needed is hand to feet co-ordination, unlike other games like cricket where hand-eye co-ordination is required. They need two-three months to pick up the run-and-dribble routine,” said Hatangadi.
His summer coaching activities kicked off after his one-off stint as coach of the Maharashtra state special Olympic team in 2005. Hatangadi said: “I was emotionally touched and shaken from within when I accompanied the team. It struck me then that I should do something for special people. With support from some like-minded souls, I started Phoenix Sports Club in 2006. This is my way of giving back to the game that gave me so much. The satisfaction I get training these special people can’t be expressed in words.”
Yesterday, he was seen imparting his handball knowledge to orphan girls from Shradhanand Mahila Ashram, Matunga besides special people. Currently, 16 special people are trained in the camp under the supervision of special educator Bharati Varade.