Former powerlifter trying to eke out a living by selling ‘vada-paav’Updated: Jul 13, 2020 23:09 IST
Former international powerlifter Shatrughan Lal is an inspiration for many. Even at the age of 50, he lifts a good amount of weights every day while coaching trainees at the Chowk Stadium here.
He has also learnt the art of cooking ‘vada-paav’ from YouTube and has been running a small roadside shop in Durgapuri, Mawaiya for the last one week to make ends meet.
A silver medalist at the Senior Asian Championship, Lal is among the 400-odd ad hoc coaches on the state government’s rolls, who have been facing a tough time for the last three months. Reason: No payments have been made to them in the absence of any sports events due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
But the never-say-die attitude of Lal has helped him fight the odds.
“That’s the only way for me in this crisis situation,” said Lal, a native of Lucknow, on Sunday. The former power lifter doesn’t mind letting people know that he has 12 international medals (10 silver and two bronze) and 35-odd medals at the national championships.
“Seeing kids without food etc was very difficult for me. But I decided not to succumb to the situation and instead to fight against it,” said Lal, whose eatery fetches him a daily business of Rs 300-400.
He bagged his first international medal (a silver) at the Senior Asian Championship in Taiwan in 1993.
He is connected with his trainees even on phone (free of cost).
“They (trainees) call me and ask for support and I help them. Some visit my shop to meet me and I don’t feel bad in doing this business as it’s the best way to live with honesty and dignity,” he said, adding, “It’s a slow start on the business front, but hoping to get people’s attention soon.”
A graduate from Lucknow University, Lal had been an ad hoc coach at the Chowk Stadium from 1999 to 2001.
“In 2001, I moved to Hindalco Industries in Renukoot in search of a good opportunity and stayed there till 2012. But I came back to Chowk Stadium as hoc coach in 2015 when I came to know about a better job here.”
As an international player of his time, Lal gets Rs 25,000 per month for 11 months a year, as per government norms.
“My daughter is pursuing graduation from Lucknow University while my son is in Class 9. But I don’t have money to spend on my son’s online classes. The school has asked for Rs 5,000 as first installment and I don’t have the money for this. Don’t know how things will unfold in future, but for now my family is hoping for better days,” said Lal, who has taken a loan of Rs 35,000 to start his business.
“Friends and relatives helped me start this business, but I feel that something has to be done to help all ad hoc coaches. Many of them are running roadside vegetable and tea shops across the state as they have no other option left,” said Lal.
It is learnt that last week, the district administration in Kanpur came to the rescue of 17 ad hoc coaches, giving them Rs 15,000 (at Rs 5,000 per month) as a special relief fund for the last three months from the ‘Khelkood Protsahan Samiti’. The coaches would continue getting Rs 5,000 per month till the resumption of sports activities in UP.
“This system has to be followed everywhere in the state to help the struggling ad hoc coaches. When the government is distributing foodgrain and Rs 1,000 to labourers in the state, something has to be done for the ad hoc coaches also,” said a taekwondo coach.
Though UP Sports Directorate authorities had been promising to help ad hoc coaches, nothing had so far been done on the ground level. “We are in the process of doing something for them… waiting for a green signal from the top,” said RP Singh, director (sports), UP.
In view of restrictions due to the pandemic, there have been no sports activities. Stadiums are open but only for walk and yoga activities.