English lessons for Rohtak girls

A few years ago, they were very good kho-kho players in Haryana. Amit Kaur, Nanhi Chaudhary and Manju Rani, from villages like Thurana and Kharak Punia in Hisar District, even represented their State in kho-kho’s age-group Nationals.

The Rohtak girls, Amit Rani, Nanhi Chaudhary and Manju Rani, who receive online coaching from England's Robert Gordon Creasey.   -  Stan Rayan

A few years ago, they were very good kho-kho players in Haryana. Amit Kaur, Nanhi Chaudhary and Manju Rani, from villages like Thurana and Kharak Punia in Hisar District, even represented their State in kho-kho’s age-group Nationals.

Three years ago, the Rohtak-based Hope Foundation spotted the three, virtually adopted them and turned them to athletics. They were provided with accommodation, coach and all their needs were taken care of. And for a year or so, they are also getting guidance from an athletics coach in England.

“Robert Gordon Creasey, the English coach, comes down twice a year and he sends online training schedules for these girls. He was in Rohtak for 15 days in January and in April this year,” said Surender Pannu, a physiotherapist and the president of the Hope Foundation, a charitable organisation, which is supporting the young athletes. “Rajesh Kumar, who works in the Physical Education Department in the Government senior secondary school in Mokhra in Rohtak, now coaches the girls following these online lessons.”

The three girls are now here for the ongoing 33rd National junior championships here.

Nanhi, who will be running the under-20 girls 800m on Sunday, feels that coach Robert’s guidance has given her and her fellow-athletes new hope and a new life.

“I used to fall ill frequently but now I’m fitter. There are many athletes who run on  steroids and drugs and spoil their career. We have picked up many new workouts, long running mixed with easy running, from coach Robert,” said Nanhi.

NO TO DRUGS

“Coach Robert told us that yoga and meditation were much better than taking drugs.”

The English lessons have changed the girls’ world, they have helped them improve their English too and raised awareness about their sport.

Amit Kaur, who won the 1500m silver on the championships’ opening day here, has a goal of winning an Olympic medal one day.

“Genzebe Dibaba (the Ethiopian Olympic and World Championships medallist) is my favourite athlete,” said the 17-year-old from Thurana village. And Nanhi is a big fan of American star Allyson Felix.

Robert came to India first through the Rohtak-based Micron Prithvi Foundation, which supports para and able-bodied athletes, and Surender came in touch with the English coach during one of his visits to the country.

“He does not believe in hard work but in smart work. And he has changed their food habits, there are a lot of vegetables and fruits and he has given each girl specific training depending on her body condition,” said Surender.

The girls are bright, young and promising. One just hopes the English lessons help them light up the circuit in the years to come.