Sports Women shine in Playwrite

The seventh edition of the sports literary festival, PlayWrite, opened here at CII today, with noted sports journalist former Deputy Editor of The Hindu and Sportstar Vijay Lokapally delivering the keynote address.

Sports Women shine in Playwrite
Avneet Sidhu, Shagun with Saurabh Duggal.

Chandigarh, April 20, 2024: The seventh edition of the sports literary festival, PlayWrite, opened here at CII today, with noted sports journalist former Deputy Editor of The Hindu and Sportstar Vijay Lokapally delivering the keynote address.

Lokapally commended the growing trend among women to opt for sports and aspire for winning medals especially when the facilities and infrastructure are improving in the country.

Vivek Atray, co-founder of Playwrite, with Hardeep Chandpuri, remembered the late Novy Kapadia who mentored along with Lokapally to setup the platform for the celebrated sports achievers to come together and inspire the younger generation for making sports as a career.

Jitin Talwar, in his keynote speech said that many opportunities are opening for women in sports, which is a lifetime of learning to live in the moment, learn to accept defeat, and respect one’s opponents.

The first session, ‘Shooting for the Stars’ featured Avneet Sidhu, IPS, the AIG of Police and former Indian shooting champion from Punjab, as well as Olympian Shagun Chowdhary from Rajasthan, the first woman to qualify and represent India in the Olympics in Clay Pigeon Shooting, and holder of multiple Asian championship medals. 

Former sports journalist Saurabh Duggal skillfully brought out their struggles to excel in the sports despite the patriarchal social pressures, initial hiccups and journey of ups and downs with lack of sporting facilities in shooting, yet parental support helped them grow. 

Shagun lamented the unfortunate politics in sports that keeps many budding sports people competing effectively in the national and international arena while Avneet pointed out that every sports person gives his/her best in the sports field, and there is always one crucial moment that can make or mar your performance in the field.  Both sportswomen endorsed the need for the people to applaud every sports person who competes in the sports field.

Tennis or Pickleball session had professional tennis player Rashmi Mohan who represented India in 45-plus category and participated in ITF World Tennis Masters Tour in Portugal and world championships, while Neeraj Yashpaul, another professional tennis player and silver medalist at ‘Khelo India University Games’ at Odisha, explored the need for more youngsters opting for this highly competitive sport.

In conversation with Prasang Raheja, a legal professional, Rashmi spoke about the challenges of starting late in life in the game, but biggest hurdle had been the lack of support from professional bodies and the government.  The need is to create a much-needed culture of sports in our country

Hardeep Chandpuri, publisher, radio personality and cofounder of Playwrite moderated the session on ‘Soccer in the Hinterland’ with Bahadurgarh football team’s technical director Rohit Parashar, former Indian coach and ex-chief of NIS, along with head coach Sudarshan Singh, and senior coach Vinay Joon who is also secretary of CBFC, explored the dimensions of the young players being identified at the grassroot level and groomed to excel.

Identifying young people should be a constant endeavour and a coach not only prepares them but grooms them for on and off the field, said Joon.

Football is an affordable sport and ‘catch them young’ efforts of Bahadurgarh Football Team have paid off in selecting the right talent at a young age.

Psychologist Simar Onkar underlined the importance of the hitherto ignored area of psychology in Indian sports. He said while there are coaches for fitness, diet, gym training, and the sport, the mental fitness is the most ignored area which needs to be understood and practiced by the sports people to stay mentally fit.

The second last session on WPL evinced keen participation of the audience, as well known cricketer and highest uncapped Indian player, Kashvee Gautam, took the centre stage with ex-Radio jockey and sports commentator for IPL and ICC tournaments, Aditi Rathi, and architect Mukta Goyal who had been a gold medalist in taekwondo, red belt in judo-karate, and state badminton champion, as well as professional cricketer.   

Moderated by noted cardiologist Dr. H.K. Bali, who had been following women cricket since 70s, said that women cricket is getting more and more competitive and popular amongst all ages especially the aspiring sports women.

Women like actress and anchor Mandira Bedi donated her entire brand endorsement money to the development of women Indian cricket team in 2003, and since then there had been no looking back with WPL 2024 marking the turning point in Indian women cricket, recalled Aditi.

Aditi from Carmel Convent School as well as Mukta started their journey into sport with cricket

A young budding cricketer, Aditi from Carmel Convent School also joined the stage. She said that her parents have always supported her cricket endeavours. Cricket Started as a part of her fitness journey.

Dr Bali complimented all the sportswomen and expressed happiness that more and more women are entering the sports arena and in many ways outdoing men in their performances.

The Playwrite concluded with interesting session on Olympian Challenges moderated by Vivek Atray, with Radhica Sreeman, Manjusha Kanwar, Prabhjot Singh, and Vijay Lokapally.