Swimming to success
Imagine a village in Gujarat. Now imagine a group of kids splashing their arms in the local lake, thoroughly enjoying themselves. There is no changing room, no shower, no lanes in the lake and no one to clean it up. Instead you have buffaloes bathing and women washing clothes on the banks. And yes, you will also find a dedicated swimming coach, Karsanbhai, who has been coaching kids for 36 years.
“Sports is a way to spread brotherhood - it acts as a catalyst to bring people close, it creates a sportsmanship and also keeps the kids healthy,” says a beaming Karsanbhai. But there were initial challenges. “The parents of girls would not send them because of the costume. But I explained to them that to participate in competitions, they have to wear it.” Now the atmosphere is such that the parents are convinced and girls come without any restrictions.”
It goes without saying that Karsanbhai does not take any coaching fee. Instead, he spends all his pension money on buying swimming costumes, caps and goggles for the kids. He has also coached a successful water polo team. Because of his relentless dedication, around 400 kids have won many medals at the state level and 52 kids at the national level.
Happiness, self-confidence and a new identity - swimming has given these valuable things to the villagers. Karsanbhai has big dreams for his students. “I want my students to create a world record like Michael Phelps!”