Para-badminton player Sugil Abbas back in India after months of struggle amidst pandemic
29-year-old Sugil Abbas, a para-badminton player from Tamil Nadu, was stuck at Jakarta in Indonesia during the pandemic and lockdown. He had visited the country to practice the game but got stuck there due to lack of international flights to return back. With the help of NGO’s, Sugil returned to India on 29 July and couldn’t be happier that he is finally at home after four months.
When the national lockdown was declared on 24 March, many Indians were stranded in different parts of the world. Amongst them was para-badminton player Sugil Abbas from Tamil Nadu. Sugil flew to Jakarta in Indonesia on 11 March for his practice. As per plan, he couldn’t return back to India in March end since all international flights were cancelled. Sugil was struggling to make ends meet with the meagre amount that he had in hand. With the help of a few kind-hearted souls in Jakarta and NGO’s in Tamil Nadu, Sugil finally landed back to India on 29 July. It was truly an emotional moment for this youngster who says that home is where the heart is.
Pride of Tamil Nadu
Sugil, 29 years old, hails from Erode in Tamil Nadu. He is an amputee by birth where his left limb was affected. Sugil completed his Diploma in Computer Engineering before pursuing badminton full time. He has been playing the game for over a decade now.
Sugil has won over 14 national matches and played internationally in over six countries. He recollects that though badminton was a hobby for him initially, now it is a passion, something that he has taken up professionally. Thanks to his supportive family, Sugil can follow his badminton dreams.
He has a few sponsors who help him travel for the game and also buy badminton kits.
Tough days due to pandemic
Sugil flew from Chennai to Jakarta on 11 March as part of his practice sessions. He has a few friends there with whom he was planning to learn new things. “During that time, there was no tension about spread of coronavirus. Nobody knew about the lockdown either. So as usual, I thought I can return back home on March end”, says Sugil. Apparently, there was a lockdown in Indonesia too. This made things harder for Sugil. His flight back to India was cancelled and he was literally stuck in the foreign land with no money to even meet expenses!
“Only Vande Bharat mission flights were plying. But the ticket fare was beyond what I could afford. That is when I tried to reach out to NGO’s in India for help”, he recollects.
Tamil Nadu-based NGO’s ‘Lit the Light’ and Aakkam foundation stepped in. They managed to collect funds for Sugil’s ticket expenses to return back. The youngster landed in Kochi on 29 July and from there via road to Erode. Currently, he is in quarantine staying away from family, but glad that he is back home. “There were days when I did not even have food to eat. I know many Indians who are struggling there even now. The pandemic has changed everything. My family was glad to see me”, he says. Though he is in dire need of funds to take his game forward, Sugil says, “I should be looking out for sponsors now, but I’am not doing it amidst all this. There are many who lost their jobs and can’t even get food. Those are bigger priorities”, he says.
Barath SN, Founder, Lit the Light says, “I know Sugil for the past three and half years. So when he contacted me for help, I had no second thoughts. I have always managed to arrange funds for him and did that this time too. I’am glad that I could help him return back home”.
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