'Was nearing a no-ration phase': Meet India's kho-kho captain

Tucked in her small room at home, India’s kho-kho captain Nasreen Sheikh says the financial situation had become bad, reaching a point where there was no food at home.

Nasreen Sheikh insists having a regular proper diet is key to sorting success, all the more in a game like kho kho.(File photo)   -  File photo

“The financial situation has been bad. It almost came to a point when there was no food at home,” says India’s kho-kho captain Nasreen Sheikh tucked in her small room in Delhi’s Shakurpur area.

As the lockdown enters the fifth week, the income of the house has been crippled, she says.

“My father sells utensils. Now, due to the lockdown, he could not step out or make any money. The financial situation is really strained,” says the girl who has made India proud, over and over again.

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She came first in both the Asian Championship as well as the South Asian Championship. The young sportswoman won a whopping 40 Indian championship titles. But leave aside her nutritional supplements, Nasreen has been struggling to make ends meet.

“I have appealed to the Delhi government many times. I even applied online. But no help came my way,” claimed Sheikh whose room is full of embodiments of the glory she brought home — prizes, medals and certificates. The only help, she claims, has come from the Kho Kho federation of India.

“I was nearing a stage when there was no food at home to eat when the federation stepped in with some help. My father sells utensils in the ‘patri bazaar’ that is the household. Lockdown has kept him off earning,” said she.

Nasreen Sheikh insists having a regular proper diet is key to sorting success, all the more in a game like kho kho. But, given her circumstances, she couldn’t afford one.

“I play for the Airport Authority of India. They give me Rs 26,000 per month as salary. But it comes after three months. Anyway, they give it for my diet. So whatever I had left from it, I have used it for running the house,” quips the talented Nasreen.

She says it’s important the lockdown ends not just for her sporting career but also making ends meet. But she says, she is thankful to a couple of helping hands including that of Delhi BJP leader Tajinder Bagga who too has reached out to her, of late.

She says, she is baffled at no replies to repeated requests to the Delhi government, who she has reached out through all available means.

She complains: “I have played internationally. I have played for india. Yet, the Delhi government did not bother to answer my pleas for food or ration. They (Delhi government) focus so much on those who play cricket. But here I am, the captain of India’s Kho Kho team urging for help that fell on deaf ears.”

But, the proverbial ‘light at the end of tunnel’ turned true for her when the federation learnt of her plight and recently reached out with a generous help of Rs 1 lakh.

She says: “Had that help not come, I don’t know what would happen to all of us. But I still want to ask the Delhi government, what was my fault that I was never answered back at a time when I was struggling to stay afloat.”

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