Locked out: India's Yash Fadte stuck in Birmingham

The young squash champion is unable to come back to India after his training programme at Solihull Arden Club is abandoned.

Yash Fadte cannot return home as the Indian government has barred international flights for at least a week. - SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT

A few weeks ago, when Yash Fadte left for Birmingham, he had set himself a target - to make the most of the next three months and train under the watchful eyes of seasoned coach Chris Ryder. But the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has left the young squash champion in a spot.

With the British government asking gyms and leisure clubs to shut down, the Solihull Arden Club, too, locked its squash courts on Saturday for at least the next four weeks. “I was training at the club all this while, and from today, all the courts have been shut. So, I don’t know what to do next,” Fadte told Sportstar from Birmingham.

To make matters worse, he can’t even return home as the Indian government has barred international flights for at least a week.“I have rented a flat, so I can stay there. But now that the training facilities have stopped, I am not sure what I will do here all alone. Even if I want to go back home, I can’t at the moment,” the youngster said.

Until a few days ago, he had comforted himself with the thought that things would be under control soon. “My original schedule was to stay here for three months, but that doesn’t look possible now,” Fadte said.

The 18-year-old got a reality check on Friday evening soon after U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced that restaurants, pubs, nightclubs and gyms would be shut. “The entire country has got into a panic mode. The superstores are empty, there is no stock. It’s like a self-quarantine. Things are tough, but we clearly don’t have any other options but to wait,” he said.

No choice but to wait

Yash is in constant touch with his family in Vasco, Goa, and even his family members aren’t sure what the future course of action would be. His father, Dilip Fadte - he has played Ranji Trophy for Goa - appears clueless, too. “In [an] ideal situation, we would have asked him to come home, but now, even that is not possible. There is no choice but to wait,” Dilip said.

“I was supposed to visit him next week, but that won’t happen. I plan to have a word with his coach today and act accordingly,” the concerned father said.

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The GoSports Foundation, which sponsors Fadte, is monitoring the situation, too, and trying to find a headway. “We want to first ensure the safety of an athlete and given that his training was going on as normal as possible in the last 10 days, he chose to stay back there. Even if his training stops, he will be safe,” Deepthi Bopaiah, the executive director of GoSports Foundation, said.

“Travelling at this stage may not be the best possible option. However, at any point if he wants to head back, we will ensure that we speak to the ministry and whoever is required to get him back and quarantine him if required and follow all the protocols. But at this stage, staying where he is and safeguarding himself is possibly the best option,” Bopaiah added.

Last month, Fadte won the French Junior Open championship and was hoping to improve his skills in the U.K. Now, heading back home is his first priority.

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