Ladakh overcomes challenges to make archery debut

Prior to the ongoing National Championships in Jamshedpur, Ladakhi archers' participation in these events was minimal.

(From left) Ladakh team coach Stanzin Doller, archer Stanzin Jigdal and manager Gulzar Ahmed Khan. - Y. B. SARANGI

Despite its geographic remoteness and the lack of expertise in archery, Ladakh has achieved a milestone by making its debut in the National championships here.

Prior to this, Ladakhi archers’ participation, as part of Jammu and Kashmir, in the National championships was minimal.

Gulzar Ahmed Khan, a former archer and manager of the Ladakh team, hopes the young union territory’s participation in the elite event will promote archery.

“Archery and polo are the traditional sports of Ladakh. It is in our blood. In 2014, we started recurve and compound archery by watching YouTube. Stanzin Doller madam, our only NIS diploma holder coach, has overseen our preparations for some time.

“We did trials in both Kargil and Leh districts before a combined trial to select athletes. We got about a week for practice. Thanks to our MP Jamyang Tsering Namgyal, we got affiliation in 2020. Our needs are taken care of and we have taken flights to reach here. There is pride in representing one’s state,” Khan told Sportstar.

Challenges

Khan underscored the challenges. “The equipment is so expensive. We have discussed this with our authorities and they have promised to start a scheme with a 75 percent subsidy on equipment. Ground is another issue in a desert and hilly area.

“We come from a cold region. If we get 10-15 days practice ahead of a big event, then our boys will do well. We want to be informed a little earlier.”

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Compound archer Stanzin Jigdal said, “It is great to participate here. Hopefully, this will inspire others.”

Coach Doller, who picked up archery while studying in a college in Chandigarh and competed in the Nationals, wanted her trainees to excel in big international events.

“There was no coach in Ladakh. I thought Ladakhis should not face the problems I faced. That’s why I did NIS (diploma). For the last two years I have been training kids and para-archers at my academy.

“I take Rs 500 from each kid and if the target is spoiled, then I get it from them. We can’t get targets from outside, it’s expensive. So we make them.

“My parents say, ‘Why do you do something without being paid?’ I am preparing to get a job, but I don't know what will happen after that. When there will be development, more coaches will come. I want my kids to do what I could not do,” said Doller.

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