RAMANDEEP KAUR | NT KURIOCITY
It was in 2013 that fifteen year old Aashreya Naik first developed an interest in boxing after observing her brother practicing the sport. Her mother was not initially happy with her choice owing to her gender and her young age. Her dad however, being a boxer himself threw his full support behind her. And thus began Naik’s journey into the world of boxing. Buyoed by her parents support ever since, there has been no looking back for young Naik.
The Mapusa girl recently won a silver medal at the 13th International Silesian Championship for Women in the junior category in Gliwice, Poland. She lost against Serbia’s Nina Stajkovic in the final. “I think I lost because she had the height advantage,” she says. However, she adds, she got to learn a lot by observing other boxers, the way they play and the techniques they use.
Prior to this Naik won a bronze medal in the 63 kilogram category in boxing at Khelo India School Games in New Delhi late last year. Owing to her good performance she was selected for a two-month long national coaching camp in Rohtak, Haryana where they were given physical and technical training. She also learnt a lot more about the sport. “At the National Boxing Academy, Rohtak we learnt with technical practice. If we could not do something, we were told to keep practicing over and over again,” she recalls. It was at the camp that she then found herself selected for the Championship.
National camps, she states are very different as compared to the ones here in Goa. “At national camps they would motivate and teach us techniques to use in the ring. Whereas, here they do not tell us anything, all they say is to hit,” says Naik, who is a student of Class 10 at Shri Vasant Vidyalaya in Siolim. But how does she balance studies and sport? “My practice is in the morning and I study in between the breaks,” she states.
Naik is presently a boxing trainee at Sports Authority of India Girls Hostel, Peddem and she is now aiming to win a gold medal at Junior National Games.
A parent’s thoughts
Aashreya may be a promising talent for Goa, but Dinesh Naik, her father laments that the Goa government is not forthcoming in terms of providing much support. “Our family is not financially rich. I being a boxer always encouraged my children to take up boxing so that they can fulfill my ambitions and continue their dreams. But the Goa government is doing nothing for boxers till date,” he says.
Dinesh who is the chairman of Thunder Boxing Club, Peddem further says that since the government does not give any funds or pay tickets for inter-school boxing children, at their club every month they have a meeting wherein all the members contribute 200 and pay tickets of children who are there at their club. “Most of the children that come to our club are of vegetable vendors or fish sellers as in boxing there is not much to invest as compared to other sports,” he adds.
Commenting on why not many Goans get into boxing, he opines that boxing is one tough sport and parents are over concerned about their children getting hurt.