Live life to the fullest, & play to your heart's fill - My Take by Para Badminton Player Neeraj George

In My Take this week we have prominent para-badminton player Neeraj George. 31-year-old George, who has numerous national and international laurels to his credit, shares his future plans, which include opening a training centre, exclusively for para-badminton players!

As a kid, I was always interested in badminton. My left limb was amputated after I suffered an attack of bone cancer in 1996. I am from Kochi and I went on to study biotechnology in Scotland. Today, apart from a career in badminton, I also work at the Advocate General’s office in Kochi. I thoroughly enjoy juggling my work and badminton schedules.

Entry into badminton

My first tryst with professional badminton was in the year 2007. Once I ventured into the sport, I knew that I wanted to take this up professionally. I have participated in many national and international badminton games. They have increased my confidence as a professional player.

I was always interested in the game since childhood. It was in 2007 that I decided to take it up seriously. Even though I started it off as a physical activity to sweat out extra calories, badminton is now close to my heart. My parents are my strongest pillars of support. They have always stood by me to beat all odds. I must say that my family is my biggest pillar of strength.

Life is a game with a lot of challenges. Right from mobility to handling gestures from others is a challenge. While playing badminton using a crutch, I manage and place both tips of the crutch and then the single leg within safety. All it requires is a wee bit of practice and lots of passion for the sport.

Nature-lover

I love exploring nature. During vacations and weekends, I hop in with friends to some nearby unexplored trekking site to get lost into nature.

Initially, walking through hilly terrains with a crutch used to be a tedious task. But I kind of got used to it. It is quite same like playing badminton. Mountain paths are narrow. A person with no disability will need 1ft to climb. A crutch user will need at least 3-ft for a comfortable clearance. Hence the option is walking sideways, which is very strenuous!

Kerala is all set to launch the Barrier Free Tourism Project. I’am thrilled! Many pioneer tourist locales in the state will now become accessible to disabled people.

This new initiative from the government is much needed. The Barrier Free Kerala Tourism initiative by the Kerala State Tourism Department is an excellent example for all the other states in India to follow. First of its kind, this initiative must abide by constitutional rights keeping in mind the accessibility factor for disabled people, senior citizens and pregnant women.

Future plans

I hope to start an institute for para-badminton players very soon. For this, I need government collaboration along with sponsors pooling in.

India has started focussing on para-sports now. This is a great improvement. Sports authorities are identifying the right players and promoting them in national and international arenas. But we still have a long way to go.

Bringing together a lot of things might take a while for me, but I’am sure of kick-starting this venture soon. Work for the centre is already in the pipeline.

I believe in chasing one's dreams, no matter how much effort is required. Every step counts for the final achievement. A player has to always follow etiquettes on court and keep up the sportsman spirit. See yourself in others. We have to cultivate empathy than sympathy. Rest everything will fall in place.

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