Bracing to Win- Pooja
Pooja, 21 yrs , contracted brain fever when she was all of 6 months. Although she recovered, it left her hearing and speech impaired. The anxiety amongst her family increased as each day rolled out yet another manifestation of a deviation from the regular milestones. Her mother recalls how one day her father kept honking in very close proximity, but failed to get any reaction from her. Her walk continued to be extremely unstable. This even triggered laughter initially, but later became a cause of concern. Her early childhood did not include education as there was no school which was willing to take her. Pooja’s mother was also suggested to place her in an orphanage, but she felt that she could never do that. Although their family and friends have always wished them well, no one really could come forward with the relevant support. Her parents and siblings were all alone in this struggle.
It was only when Pooja was 9yrs that a chance meeting with a stranger introduced her parents to the Asha Public School Dwarka, Palam Village Delhi. With tremendous support from the Principal of the school, her parents were convinced that this was the care most appropriate for Pooja. She is now in the 12th grade. The School brought peace in the entire household as Pooja began to settle in a routine. She belongs to a family of humble means with her father being the sole earner, earning through a small grocery store.
At the age of 13 she joined SO Bharat. She participated in Athletics, Football, Floor Hockey and even bowling. She was selected in Floor Hockey and participated in the SO World Winter Games Austria 2017. Pooja has improved in her social behaviour. She is able to communicate her message across to her co-Athletes, although laboriously.
Suresh, her Coach, has seen her performance in Football since January 2017 at the Frank Anthony School New Delhi where she comes regularly for football sessions. He has witnessed her journey through her football performances. He recalls how she has progressed from no knowledge to now knowing enough to be able to teach passes to others. She is conscious even to be dressed as an Athlete. Earlier she would come wearing casuals, but now she is particular about wearing the sports uniform. Her football skills, her shooting everything has improved, as she makes a conscious effort to every detail of the game. Her footwork is powerful. She even sets position and liaises between me and other teammates.
Pooja participated in the Female Futsal held in Haridwar, Uttrakhand in February 2018. In March 2018 she was selected to play the Unified 11-a-side Football match with the Delhi Dynamos Coaches, engaging with them in the outdoor drills the next day as well.
Pooja’s parents have always been supportive of her participation in Special Olympics. “I have seen my daughter excel in every sport that she plays. She is very confident. Sports has brought in her a determination to win, she feels successful.. Just that I want her to settle in life”
Pooja wakes up early morning to go for a warm up at the park near her residence. Her daily regimen starts at 4AM and continues for two hours everyday, accompanied by her mother. As soon as she reaches home her mother gives her a carefully assembled meal . Twice or thrice, as per a given schedule she travels to the Jawahar lal Nehru Stadium which is approx. 30 kms from her residence to receive football training from the Delhi Dynamos Football Club (DDFC) Coaches along with the other Academy players. In between she studies too. This year she will be appearing for two papers of Class 12 which she is doing through NIOS (National institute of Open Studies). In fact she cleared 4 papers earlier this year but two were left as she went for a football training Camp to Goa in the month of April 2018. Her mother , herself being a hockey player in school, grants a fair amount of priority to sports. She gets overwhelmed that Pooja is one of the female footballers participating in the first time held Unified football exclusive event ever. She is part of the SO Bharat Unified female football team which is participating at the Unified cup 2018 to be held in Chicago USA.