Ironing other people’s clothes only allows Anil Kumar Kanojia to earn a modest amount. Nevertheless, he and his wife, Santosh Kumari, support their daughter’s sporting ambitions. But ask 19-year-old handball player Kiran how hard it was initially to win her mother over, with the latter not too keen on her youngest child taking what she saw as a gamble.
“While mother never stopped me from playing, whenever I had to travel outside Chandigarh for national championships, she insisted that I leave the game and concentrate on studies. At times, she would become so persistent that I had to go on a hunger strike. Obviously, she used to relent,” chuckles Kiran, who took up – and instantly fell in love with – handball four years ago, when it was introduced in her high school, GMHS-35.
“However, her (mother) perspective has changed in the past one and a half year, especially after I got the opportunities to play abroad. She now knows that one can have a successful future even in sports,” adds the teenager, who represented India at Partille Cup in Sweden, and the under-20 Women’s Continental Trophy in Uzbekistan, last year.
Now, the city girl is again on the brink of an international outing, as her name features in the list of 25 probables for the upcoming Southeast Asian qualifiers for the Continental Trophy to be held in Lahore in December. The list will be pruned down to 16 players during the second phase and last of the national camp to held in Tamil Nadu in November, and Kiran is confident that her previous experience, and performance during the first phase of the camp earlier this month, will stand her in good stead.
“I am confident about making it to the final squad, mainly because I performed well during the first phase of the camp, and was part of the playing team that won the gold at the last year’s qualifiers held in Kathmandu. It was after this feat that I was selected for the Uzbekistan event,” tells Kiran, who is pursuing a BA degree from Dev Samaj College, Sector 36, and trains under coach Iqbal Singh at the handball coaching centre in the Sector-42 sports complex.
And Kiran thanks the coach in a big way: “Apart from parents, a major credit for whatever I’ve achieved goes to Iqbal sir. Hadn’t he been there to guide me, I wouldn’t have got the chance to represent the country so early.”
On her future plans, Kiran insists that she will try to strike a balance between the sport and studies. “But if I ever have to choose between the two, I’ll pick handball. After all it’s my passion, and has got me medals and the honour of playing for the country,” adds the youngster, who has a total of 12 medals – eight gold and two silver – from state and national level events."