My Experience at Vidya Valley as a Coach
The year 2020 is going to be remembered by everyone, and I am no exception, except, for me, Covid will not the primary reason.
It all began when I was approached to coach Climbing Athletes of a school in Pune called Vidya Valley. I was very apprehensive at first because, in India, no school takes climbing as a sport seriously, and when they are looking for a coach they generally mean a belayer.
Despite these concerns, I decided to take up the assignment and I have never been more pleasantly surprised. The first thing I noticed in Vidya Valley was that all sports are given importance and they are considered as integral a part of education as academics. Talking about climbing, the facilities are one of the best in the country. Even the sporting federations facilities are a pale shadow in comparison.
My brief was to train athletes to a level where they could challenge the best Climbers globally with an aim for a podium finish at the Asian games. This could further act as a springboard for the Olympics. The sheer audaciousness of this ambition was a breath of fresh air in a country where I had got used to people setting really small goals.
The team, I inherited was a bunch of lively, enthusiastic athletes ranged between 9 and 16 years. Interacting with them was a pleasure. When coaching athletes at such a young age you realize that you are going to be a big influence in their lives and you are not only training them for the sport but also how to behave beyond the sports fields. Keeping that in mind I’ve given equal importance to qualities like discipline, fair play, teamwork, a die-hard attitude, which will help them to be better human beings.
Just when you think you have it all planned, life throws a sucker punch. Just as I was settling in, Covid with its Lockdown hit us and as with everyone, it didn’t come with a manual. The first few days and weeks were frustrating, but then instead of sitting around, we decided to start online training. I wasn’t sure about how the athletes would respond, but once again my doubts would be unfounded. Online training then seamlessly shifted to physical training with very strict safety protocols
This team has responded positively with everything I’ve thrown at them. Their improved standards speak volumes about their hard work and dedication. The team’s achievements show that we are on the right path, but we cannot be complacent, we have to push each other even harder on the road ahead.
We are already in the process of picking the second rung of athletes to train. If our progress continues at this pace our ambition will not seem so audacious after all.