No 400m track on Lakshadweep; just 2 weekly ships
No 400m track on Lakshadweep; just 2 weekly ships: The mother of Lakshadweep’s Mubssina Mohammed was ecstatic after her daughter won the long jump gold at the National Youth Championships on Sunday.
Dubina Bhanu’s tone of “bhayngra, bhayngra (very, very) joyful” reflected the elation she felt at earning a medal at the World Championships. No easy task, especially for Mubssina, who hails from a region without even a 400-meter track, let alone one with a synthetic surface.
Mubssina, 16, won the heptathlon with a score of 4649 points in the Youth National Championships in Bhopal, where she had won the long jump the day before.
The talented youngster has already qualified for the Asian Youth Championships, which will be held in Kuwait next month, in two separate events.
Lakshadweep Youth and Sports Affairs official and coach Ahmed Jawad Hassan discovered Mubssina at a sports festival on the Minicoy islands.
The kid back then competed in both the middle and long-distance events. She had the makings of a strong long jumper, which is why I suggested she make the conversion. Hassan, who is also the secretary of the Lakshadweep athletics organization, is ecstatic with the success of the young athlete.
Males in Lakshadweep, despite the island nation’s love of football, rarely choose careers in sports. The few kids who train with Hassan had to be convinced to give it a shot. Persuading one’s parents might be an uphill task for a woman.
The guys don’t seem to care at all. Until now, all medal winners have been female, even at the zonal level. The largest problem, though, is getting their parents to pay for instruction.
Hassan notes that, “Here, the emphasis is primarily on academics, and athletics are typically viewed as a distraction or a useless career path.” ‘
The absence of essential infrastructure is also a problem.
There is not a single synthetic or 400-meter track on any of the ten populated islands. The only place for Mubssina and the others to train is on mud tracks. For young people in Lakshadweep, access to premium fitness centres and rehabilitation facilities is currently a pipe dream.
As if the region’s lack of adequate sports facilities wasn’t a problem enough, there is also a severe shortage of talented athletes. Here on the ten inhabited islands, I am the lone athletics coach.
I’ve marked at tournaments as well as organised and coached athletes. There is almost nobody here to assist me out, and even less money. According to Hassan, “I put money from my own wallet to organise tournaments.” Hassan competed in the middle distance event at the collegiate level.
Out of the mainstream
However, getting to competitions remains the largest barrier for regional athletes. The only way for kids to get to the mainland is to take the once-weekly boat from Kavaratti, the capital of the union territory.
We only really compete against each other in the school games. Getting to the rest will require some additional travel time. It takes at least a week to get to and from any tournament, and there are only one or two ships every week that make the trip from here to Ernakulam, so we have to plan accordingly,” the coach adds.
Seven ships used to sail between Kavaratti and the Indian peninsula. Presently, just two are active. Schedule flexibility is guaranteed. Two or three days before to the scheduled arrival date, tickets will be made available for purchase on the website.
Accordingly, on November 18th, tickets went on sale for a ship leaving from Kochi on November 20th. For every aspiring athlete in Lakshadweep, just making it to a national competition is an enormous accomplishment in and of itself.
That’s why many parents discourage their children from participating in sports. They worry that all of the trips will interfere with their studies.
The mother of Mubssina, however, “thinks differently,” in her words. Dubina Bano is an avid fan of athletics in general. She always wanted to be an athlete, but her parents were against it. It’s true now, too.
While I understand why some parents would be hesitant to involve their children in sports, I strongly believe that it is important for all children to have some sort of physical activity in their lives.
As the first person from this area to win a medal, I couldn’t be prouder of my daughter. Dubina, who owns a clothing store in Minicoy, adds, “I sincerely hope it will improve the outlook of people now.”
Mubssina’s father is unemployed, thus the family relies on Dubina’s salary. She is her number one fan and cheerleader. Her mother never lets the family’s financial situation interfere with Mubssina’s athletic pursuits, according to Hassan.
Deepika rewrites the javelin record
Meanwhile, Deepika of Bangaon, Haryana, threw the javelin 51.84 metres (her previous mark was 51.37 metres), setting a new Youth(U-18) national record.
The teenager qualified for the competition in Kuwait and was the only competitor to throw further than 50 metres on Monday.
Deepika has the national record for her age group (U-16) and is coached by Hanuman, a well-known figure in the Fatehabad area for developing a number of talented young athletes.