Athletics For Passion
For 65-year-old Prabir Paul, coaching the budding athletes of his own village, ‘Dhitara’ and its neighborhood has been a passion.
He is a national level medal winner in high jump and hurdle. Besides, he bagged numerous medals in state, district and school level athletics meets that reflects his bright days in athletics.
Athletes : Nurturing Of
Prabir Paul has also been the coach of Chandannagar Sporting Association. He has been nurturing athletes in small towns and villages for past three decades.
He is a Turner by profession. To earn his living, he runs a small workshop.
But the workshop is secondary to him, as he says. His primary objectivity in life as of now is grooming rural boys and girls to make them enter into national and international athletics.
Ask Prabir Paul about the philosophy of his life, and his reply comes promptly, “Money cannot be a hindrance to your path if you go after your passion”.
“Even with a meager earning, one can meet his both ends if he is thoughtful and well planned. One may even be able to earn 2000 rupees a day, but in the end, it matters how he pulls through his life” says the Athletics coach.
I cannot get more than what God has given me. One has own choice to keep his life going”, opined Paul.
If you ever come to ‘DVC Khal’ in Bhadreswar in ‘Hooghly’ district, then I bet while enjoying the scenic beauty here, your ear will not miss athletics coach Paul’s booming voice mentoring his pupils. His coaching goes on the other side of ‘DVC Khal’, which is big in wide.
Simple and sober, Paul stays miles away from publicity.
During a visit to DVC Khal’, ‘Unveil.Press’ came across Prabir Paul in his coaching arena for a tête-à-tête to know the reason behind opening his coaching center in the confine of ‘DVC Khal’ and his view on the prospect of athletics at state and national level.
Why have you chosen an isolated area of DVC Khal’ for your athletics coaching center?
In my region, there is not a single ground catering for athletics. The available open space is occupied by footballers and cricketers. But they play without any objectivity, just for game’s sake, they play.
For sparing me the space for coaching athletes, I cannot fight out with them, plus grounds in populated areas are full of pollution. ‘DVC Khal’ here is relatively pollution free because of greenery around. It is an ideal place for coaching athletes.So I think up to start coaching here.
I coached them to objectivity in mind. There are two types of play, one with objectivity and the other with objective less.
So what is your objectivity of athletics coaching?
My objectivity is to sharpen the skills of rural children and produce athletes at National and International level. I started this coaching center a little more than five years ago. In this short span, my children have made their mark.
In the World Police athletics meet in the USA in 2016, ‘Susen Roy walked away with two gold medals, one in ‘long jump’ and the other in ‘triple jump’ . After independence, he was the first Indian to win in the World Police meet.
Pijush Ghosh is a gold medalist in 300 meter running and a bronze medalist in the 100-meter sprint in the junior athletics nationals held in Assam. In West Bengal State Open Athletics meet he had won gold medal both in 100 meter and 300 meter.
Pradipto Paul: He is studying sports science at Viswabharati University and is a finalist in the Indian inter university relay race.
‘Surojit Surun’: Gold Medalists in two events: shot put and ‘discus throw’ at West Bangal state level athletics meet.
Amongst female athletes:
Krishna: Gold medals in three events: ‘Shotput’, ‘Discus’, ‘Javeline’ in West Bengal state athletics meet at Midnapore.
‘Shyamoli Paul’:Won silver medals in Throw and Shot put in the state level athletics meet.
This year one boy and one girl have been selected from Chandannagar to participate in an inter district athletics meet. The boy belongs to my coaching center.
My other objectivity behind this coaching center is to achieve my own unfulfilled ambition through boys and girls of my village.
I was overjoyed when I got a phone call from the competition venue that my boys and girls had performed exceedingly well, and that they had edged out the Sports Authority of India’s trained athletes or athletes from the bigger club of Kolkata.
What are the kind of drills you are undertaking to keep your athletes/trainee physical sustainability?
We start off the activities with an intense warm up. I have a schedule for training on a weekly basis. It includes Weight training, Endurance test, Flexibility training, power training, and speed training.
Are you satisfied with the present infrastructure available to you?
Yes, why not? If I always keep nagging –this is not here…that is not there……then. I cannot do anything other than idle away time. My objective is : ‘make best use of the resources available for you.
The area you see here was full of jungle. We cleaned it and made it suitable for coaching athletics. Parallel bar and the jumping pit facilities are also available here. Have a look here also how vast the area is.
There is no slush or stagnant water in the ‘practice area’ despite the heavy rain. It is a natural infrastructure.
Every day we clean the place before we start off our activities.
Have you got any assistance from the government?
Till date, the answer is “No”. Hope was rather dashed.
In 2019 near ‘Chinsurah’ court, someone from state government sports department came in and it was told that an amount of one Lakh would be given to the national certificate holder coach.
I went there with all my certificates. But the official asked me if I had the deeds of the land which I used for coaching.
I do not have any land deeds as the land is not my ancestral property. We just cleaned the land five years ago to make it fit for athletics training. I could not persuade him despite showing my national certificates.
If they feel my center is beneficial for district or state athletics, they may help or finance my center for growth of infrastructure.
But I am determined that, whatever it may be, I will never stop coaching these budding geniuses of our village.
Do you believe in the diet chart or ask your pupils to follow the diet chart?
No, I do not give diet charts to my trainees.
Should I say a word? My boys and girls come from the poor and middle section of society.
If I asked them for a diet chart, they would exert pressure on their parents and when they don’t have it, a feeling of despair and inferiority would descend on them and it would have an effect on their performance.
For my students, I advise them to eat on time, never let their stomach starve, study and sleep well. With this, if you work hard and have ability, you can reach the national level.
Once you reach the Nationals and prove your mettle there, you will never look back.
You have been a high jumper and a Hurdler too. How do you view Bengal in these events? And it being your own event, how you have planned out coaching your own trainee
In 110-meter hurdles, Bengal had to go a long way before it caught up with the national level standard of 13.3 to 13.4.second. Bengal has to work hard. The facilities are all available in our Salt Lake stadium.
In High Jump also, infrastructure in Bengal is well-built. But it is indeed a matter of concern that success has not reached the desired level.
Gone are the days of the traditional approach to high jumping on the sand or mud bed. Now a high jumper lands on padded mat (called pillow) and the new technique is a Foshbury flop. It has an added advantage over the old technique of straddle-roll. But for foshbury, you need pad (pillow) and a good infrastructure.
I do not have the facility of ‘Fosbury’. As a temporary measure, we tried to introduce ‘Foshbury by using a fodder bed, but it did not last. It hardly worked for 2-3 days and thereafter the fodder gets hardened,
In ‘Salt Lake stadium’ facility is available. But my pupils will be tired by trarvelling 3 to 4 hours between salt lake and their home every day. It affects their studies also. If I had the facility of ‘Foshburry, I could have guided them better.
What are the events you are coaching in athletics?
Although I am a High Jumper and Hurdler, I give training in all track and field events. It includes sprint like 100m , 200 m, 400 m 800m including hurdles and middle distance run like 1500, 3000 m, Marathon, Jump events , Throw events etc.
How you have been managing middle distance and marathon in the small confines of your athletics coaching arena
One lap of my ground is 400 meter and accordingly in term of lap various running events coaching are being evolved.
What is the mission in your life and are you really satisfied with it? Any regrets for not making it big in athletics world in tune with your capability ?
Wherever I stand today, I am happy. The success of my students brings an end to my regrets, if any. I cannot get more than what God has given me. I do not ask for any fees from my students. I have in all about 60 student, from 6 year kid to 45 years adults. My only source of livelihood is my small workshop.
I try to be unbiased to my students. I tried my best never to let slip away opportunity that may open the door to their career.
For me, merit is the one and only criteria.
Many people come to me saying that if we send our children to you, you would not recommend them for a chance at district or state level meet. I give them only one reply that I will strain my every nerve to boost the potential of your child. If your child has talent, the door of opportunity opens up. But don’t expect favoritism of any kind from me.
Favoritism has let down our sports, both at state and national level.