A silver medalist in the 2013 Kanyakumari sub-junior national wrestling championship, Rakhi can be seen every day at Kishoreganj with her father, selling handia (local alcoholic beverage) to eke out a living. She is an undergraduate student at the Marwari College.
Rakhi (19), a wrestler aspiring to wear the national jersey some day, maintains a balance between helping her father in selling handia on a footpath in Kishoreganj, and her wrestling training.
What’s more interesting is that, Rakhi’s sister Madhu and their brother, Sudhir, both are pursuing careers in sports braving the financial constraints that the family faces. Madhu, is a budding wrestler along with Rakhi, while Sudhir plays football for the Mecon sports club.
Rakhi’s father, Mohan Tirkey, said, "I advised my children to take up sports to make a living, as it is much better than toiling at other blue-coloured jobs they might have got."
Experts say that on an average a sportsperson requires at least a litre of milk per day while a wrestler typically needs at least three litres. But, unfortunately enough, the Tirkey siblings have to be contend with the half litre of milk that their parents can afford.
"For us, half a litre of milk is something special. Mother arranges that,” Rakhi said.
Rakhi perceives wrestling as a way out of penury. She believes she can fight poverty and pull her family out of the current destitution.
"Thanks to my coach Bholanath Singh, my moral is high," Tirkey added.
Bholanath Singh, secretary Jharkhand Wrestling Association (JWA) and coach said, "I believe Rakhi can do well in future."
"Several talented girls training as wrestlers need financial support. Sports department should start a residential wrestling centre for girls," Singh said.
Director of the sports department, Dadan Choubey, admitted that there is no wrestling training centre yet. However, he said, plans to start one are in progress.
"The department is seriously thinking to open a wrestling training centre for girls if at least 20 girls along with their parents come forward," the director said.
To keep pursuing one’s passion in spite of being hit by abject poverty is not a commonplace story, and Rakhi Tirkey of Ranchi adds to that list.