Tuesday, February 12, 2002, Chandigarh, India


C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


Training coaches to help mentally challenged
Nishikant Dwivedi

Chandigarh, February 11
In order to sensitise the masses in general and sports coaches in particular towards the needs of mentally challenged children and adults, the Special Olympics Bharat started a four-day ‘train the trainer’ course here today. Chandigarh was one of the five cities in the country which were selected to conduct the course for 200 coaches.

During the course, 46 coaches including 21 women coaches from seven states would be trained by Mr Michael Goodacre, Regional Sports Director, Asia-Pacific, Special Olympics International, and Ms Sybil Turner, Regional Sports Manager, Asia-Pacific. Mr Goodacre is based in New Zealand and Ms Sybil hails from Australia. Such courses have already been conducted at Kolkata, Delhi and Chennai. The fifth and final course in the current series would be held in Mumbai from February 18.

Special Olympics is an international programme of sports training and athletic competition in a variety of Olympic-type sports for more than one million mentally challenged children and adults in over 170 countries. The first Special Olympics World Summer Games were held at Chicago (USA) in 1968 and first Special Olympics World Winter Games were held at Colorado (USA). The next Summer Games are scheduled at Dublin (Ireland) in June, 2003, and the Winter Games at Nagan (Japan) in February, 2005.

According to Mr Noel. E. Phillips, National Director of Special Olympics Bharat, the course is aimed at developing a group of national trainers, who can work within Asia-Pacific region and become regional trainers, who will be the Asia-Pacific sports leaders and global trainers for Special Olympics (International). He said, “It is expected from all the participants that they will further train 10 coaches each in their region and by the end of the year our country will have 2,000 coaches to train mentally challenged children”. The Special Olympics Inc. has designated India as a ‘Priority Nation’ and the Special Olympic Bharat has planned to reach one lakh athletes in the next five years from among an estimated 24 million mentally challenged people in India.

Mr Goodacre, Special Olympics accredited global trainer, expressed his satisfaction over the spread of awareness in the recent years about the mentally challenged in India. “I could see a significant improvement in the level of awareness here regarding mentally challenged people since my last visit to India in 1996”, said Mr Goodacre. According to him a large number of special schools for the mentally handicapped people have come in the country during the last few years. He was of the opinion that the governments should put in more efforts to bring more awareness among the masses regarding these people.

Mr Goodacre has spent over 10 years with the Special Olympics Inc. in Asia-Pacific region. Regarding his experience in Special Olympics, he said, “It is very easy to enter Special Olympics but it is very difficult to get out of it as one does not feel like leaving it”.

Both Mr Goodacre and Ms Sybil are keen to introduce a new game, Bocce (of Chinese origin), which is “fast becoming a rage with the mentally challenged in India”. The game has been specially adapted for Special Olympics and the needs of the athletes. Ms Promila Chandra Mohan, Area Director, North-West Zone, Special Olympics Society, said she would be approaching various sports clubs and schools to propagate about Bocce.



Child prodigy in cricket
Arvind Katyal

Chandigarh, February 11
The performance of 13 years old Gaurav Chopra, a Class IX student of Hansraj Public School, Sector 6, Panchkula, has been on a gradual increase. Gaurav, who took to cricket four years back, last year went to Leicestershire (UK) when the Chandigarh District Cricket Association under-19 team selected him for this maiden tour to have exposure to play with best teams in under-19 age group in that country. Gaurav was the only one from Panchkula to have been taken in the team.

Gaurav said out of the three matches played against England’s minor countries, he was declared man of the match in two. In the first match he scored 65 runs and took three wickets. Whereas in the second, he scored unbeaten 51 runs and claimed four wickets against Bharat Sports Club, UK. He felt once they got acclimatised in the UK there was no stopping back. He was also declared man of the series on the basis of his extraordinary achievement in the meet.

Gaurav, whose younger brother Saurav, now in class IV, was also creating wonders at state-level cricket meet, said playing cricket was now his main love though he was also concentrating on his studies to strike a balance between the two.

He listed his other achievements during the past two years. These include representing Haryana schools under-14 team as its captain in the 46th National School Games held at Vijaywada where the state team secured third place.

Gaurav said he wanted to become an all-rounder and wanted to follow the footsteps of Kapil Dev. He praised his school for giving all possible help for encouraging his game and also his coach Sanjay Verma for moulding his game.

He said the more one got exposure to various matches at different levels, more one learns. He spoke about how while playing against various states of North zone he took rich haul of wickets. While representing the Punjab Cricket Association under-14 team he took four wickets against J&K, against Himachal Pradesh, five against Haryana and five against Delhi in matches held at Patiala.

Gaurav said his daily schedule ran for more than five hours with one and half hour being devoted to physical workouts and rest to stroke building and perfection in bowling.

He was recently given sports kit sponsorships by a leading firm from Jalandhar. 

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