Sunil Joshi's son Aryan gets sports stars to talk about mental health battles

Former India cricketer Sunil Joshi's son, Aryan has come up with a community initiative where sporting personalities talk about mental health battles.

Sunil Joshi along with his son Aryan.   -  SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT

The long downtime caused by the COVID-19-induced lockdown posed a mental challenge to many. Young sportspersons, robbed of the chance to express themselves on the field of play, were one of the affected parties.

This made Aryan Joshi think about what he could do to help elevate the mood and keep spirits high. Aryan, the son of former India cricketer Sunil Joshi, came up with a plan.

The teenager started a community initiative named ‘Mental Strength Matters’, to highlight the importance of mental strength for youth engaged in sports.

On Facebook and Instagram, he has roped in popular personalities across sports - cricketers Mohammad Azharuddin, Mithali Raj and Virender Sehwag, badminton stalwart P. Gopi Chand, cue sports exponent Pankaj Advani and kabaddi star Manjeet Chhillar, to name a few - to speak on how they have overcome obstacles in their lives and how mental strength helped them do so.

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Aryan, 17, is hopeful that the videos have a positive impact among young aspiring sportspersons and others.

“Mental health is generally a neglected aspect of junior sports. The emphasis is on physical and skill development, but not on mental nurturing,” Aryan told Sportstar.

The student of Mallya Aditi International School in Bengaluru explained how different sportspersons deal with challenges in their own unique way.

“Mayank Agarwal is a calm person, who relies on yoga and meditation to stay positive. Mithali Raj, on the other hand, spoke about how she just pushed through the pain barrier when she had a severe knee injury. Different individuals handle challenges differently," Aryan stated.

The teenager is making an effort to reach as many people as possible.

“We need to get a deeper understanding of what mental strength is about,” Aryan, a promising junior cricketer, said.

Sunil is proud of his son’s work, and even appeared in a special Father’s Day video. Sunil spoke about how he had to travel 120 kilometres every day from his home town of Gadag to Hubballi to access good cricket training facilities.

The left-arm spinner also recalled the time when the Bangladesh team was caught in a terrorist attack in New Zealand - a harrowing experience which happened during his tenure as the team's spin coach.

“The players were frightened. By staying positive, I helped them keep calm by constantly assuring them that everything will be fine," Sunil said.

“When I was 17, no one spoke about mental health. It is great that Aryan is tackling this large and complex subject," Sunil stated.

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