Every sports personality has had humble beginnings. The Nehru Stadium in Faridkot is one such a place. It has been home to many athletes, some even competing at the Olympics.
Arshdeep, a sponsored child, trains here in badminton. She is the eldest of 4 siblings. She is in 9th standard and is passionate to play badminton.
“I love badminton”, says Arshdeep. “I especially like it because it doesn’t require many people to play it.”
She goes on to say, “I lacked the confidence to even speak to a single person let alone compete with so many players, but thanks to World Vision India’s intervention in my life, I now have the confidence to say no dream is too big.”
The facilities available to children here are limited. Besides the Nehru stadium, they don’t have many options to pursue their passion for the game.
Vinod Kumar, Arshdeep’s teacher in school, says, “Badminton is an indoor sport but the space provided is not sufficient for the children to play and practice freely. Arshdeep, and others like her, try and make the best of what is available to them.”
A makeshift outdoor court provides better space to play, and even though the shuttle is not very stable due to the slight gusts of wind, Arshdeep and her friend aren’t deterred from their game.
“It’s not the best location to play the game but it at least gives me a place to practice what I learn from my coaching at the stadium,” says Arshdeep. “And I also have fun at the same time.”
They run, they skip, they stretch and they run some more. Training isn’t easy for Arshdeep but stamina and agility are very important for badminton and she is determined to never give up no matter how hard it gets.
“To be the best you have to beat the best,” says Arshdeep. “I like to play with someone better than me so I can learn and improve my skills and maybe beat them someday.”
Her favourite player is Saina Nehwal, currently ranked number 2 in the world, and she hopes to get a chance to play with her someday. The players do practice drills repeatedly in order to be familiar with the movement during an actual game.
Even though Arshdeep’s village, Golewala, is barely 30 minutes drive from Faridkot town, her mother, Paramjeet, had never visited the town until 5 years ago when World Vision India began work in the region.
“World Vision India has changed our lives. As a woman, I would barely even step out of our home as was the custom,” says Paramjeet. “Today I am part of a Self Help Group set up by World Vision, involved with many activities, and my daughter even travels to town on her own for her badminton practices.”
Not all of Arshdeep’s time is spent in school and training. She is also part of the Youth Girls Club organised by World Vision, where she has many friends.
“I first started playing sports at World Vision India’s children’s club,” says Arshdeep. “It was there that I developed a keen interest for badminton. Earlier, I never had access to equipment or even knowledge on how to play the sport.”
Arshdeep may not be an Olympian yet but she is determined to continue playing badminton no matter where life may take her.
“I want to be an engineer when I grow up,” says Arshdeep.
“I know it requires a lot of work but I will put my mind to it and give time for both my studies and badminton. It’s a passion I won’t give up on,” she ends confidently.