At a time when the real-life struggles of sportsmen are inspiring Bollywood filmmakers, two sportspersons and fans of Olympic medallists MC Mary Kom, are somewhat facing the similar struggles, owing to red tapism and fund crunch, that their idol was shown fighting in her biopic. The two fans are girls from Assam and Odisha, who represented India and won gold medals in kickboxing at the recently held World Martial Arts Council (MAC) Games in Thailand. Swapna Boruah from Dibrugarh in Assam won the gold medal in full contact, in the 56 kg category, and B Yasoda Reddy from Berhampur in Odisha won the gold medal, in the 51 kg category.
Much like the journey of their idol Mary Kom, even after winning the gold, both are still wrestling with hardships of life. Among the first problems that Swapna and Yasoda faced was to arrange for funds to participate in the event. Being a non-Olympic sport, they didn't get much support from the government in raising the funds. Yasoda, whose father is a daily wage labourer, got some support from the district collector of Ganjam, Prem Chandra Chaudhary, who arranged a sum of Rs 30,000 from a private bank. She had to raise rest of the Rs 50,000 herself. Swapna, whose father is a school teacher was helped by her college Manohari Devi Kanoi Girls College to raise half of the required funds. Yasoda is now contemplating on giving up the martial art in favour of an Olympic sport.
"We represented India, so we expect to be recognised, supported and felicitated," says Swapna. Yasoda says, "We want a secured future, so we would rather play an Olympic sport." Swapna adds, "The problem is further complicated with different federations and associations in the martial art arena. There should be one apex body."
Swapna (21), who is a final year BA History (Hons) student, has been into martial art since 2006. Yasoda (20), who is appearing for her Class 12 exam from Open School, started in 2011. Both took to the sport for self defence. Although, both treasure the exposure they got at Thailand, they say they had a tough fight as players from abroad are taller and more aggressive.
Swapna hopes to train youngsters in martial art. She insists that martial art be made compulsory for every girl. Next on her cards is preparing for the IAKO National Championship in Pune and then prepare for the World MAC Games in Dubai. Yasodara on the other hand is eying the competition organised by the Georgian Wushu Federation in November, that would need an amount of Rs 1,15,000, and Yasodara has no clue how she will raise this sum.