St Mathews High School, which gives pro-bono boxing training to young, talented slum kids, was rewarded with a haul of medals at the recent inter-school boxing tournament. Now, the Malad-Malwani school is also going to field these pugilists in the forthcoming state championships.
This sunshine story, which made it to the front page of the Sunday paper yesterday, underlined how this sport has globally been a way out of the ghetto for so many boxers. Mumbai is no exception, as these children both boys and girls — aspiring Vijender Singhs and Mary Koms — dream of a better life through this sport.
Most of all though, it shows that sporting talent can be found in the unlikeliest of pockets — an urban slum or a forgotten corner of the city. Even places that aren’t on the radar, in the conventional sense of the term, may throw up talent, rough stones that can gleam like diamonds, once polished with correct training.
As India aspires to become a multi-sport powerhouse, it is important that we spread the talent net far and wide, in our quest to unearth champions in different sports. Let Mumbai coaches put their foot on the accelerator and really drive these efforts forward here.
One sees a lot of hunger and desire to succeed in children from underprivileged backgrounds. They have the fire in their bellies to make the most of the few opportunities they are given. Once identified and given basic training, if these youngsters display the talent that can take them further, they must be then put into a higher programme. A system has to be worked out by which these aspirants can be given good training, food as fuel and counselling plus motivational talks, which are so necessary in the competitive cauldron that is international sport.
Some of India’s sports stars have emerged from the hinterlands, from rural pockets and little corners of the country. These, though, have been few in number. Trawling through Mumbai may gather more such talent that can be moulded to the highest level. Let us shine those searchlights really bright.