Jambay Gyaltsen Chetan, a 33-year-old from Arunachal Pradesh, has been training over 40 underprivileged children in badminton in a Delhi park for the past three years.
“There’s this saying: Life is what happens to you while you are busy making other plans. I think that’s exactly how it is! The best of things happen in life without us planning them. The way I met my kids and the way it went way beyond the regular coach-student relationship, was incredible,” says Jambay Gyaltsen Chetan.
For the past three years, Jambay has been coaching over 40 underprivileged kids to play badminton at the C-Block Park of Delhi’s Defence Colony.
A businessman by profession, Jambay simply dismisses his work as something that he “needs to do” to keep on supporting his kids. “That’s secondary,” he says.
In 2013, Jambay started playing badminton in the park along with some friends.One day, he met a few children who had gathered around, watching the game. When Jambay talked to them, they asked if they too, could play with him. Over three years later, the group of children Jambay coaches in badminton has swelled to around 40.
“I have always had a passion for badminton, even though I never played professionally. Now, my kids are participating in tournaments and it’s such a proud feeling!” he says.
Aside from offering the classes free of charge, Jambay also provides funds for the equipment and tournament fees of his students from his own pocket. Now after three years, as the faces of Jambay and ‘his kids’ have become familiar to the residents of the colony, he also gets little help from some of them. However, sometimes it does get difficult to manage, since the number of children keeps increasing. But Jambay has only one rule: to not say no to anyone who is willing to play!
“I am very attached to the children and I wouldn’t miss a day of practice for anything in the world”, says Jambay, panting on his way to the ground as he speaks over the phone.
The children in Jambay’s classes are from an underprivileged background and cannot afford any kind of private coaching or training. Mothers of most work as domestic help in the colony.
Apart from training these children in badminton, he has also started providing classes in the morning to help them in their studies.
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“Most of these children study in government schools, where there’s not much exposure. They speak Hindi or their mother tongues at home and school, so I try to ensure that they speak English when they’re here. They are not allowed to play if they speak Hindi. This trick has worked and many of them are now fluent in English,” he says, smiling.
Coming down to the ground in the mornings and evenings also means channelling their energy in a healthy way for the kids.
“These children are in a very impressionable age, so it’s very easy for them to pick up foul language and bad habits. Earlier they’d use abusive words when they’d come to play, but with time they learnt to behave. I’d insist on using proper language and treating each other nicely when playing. They need all the help they can get and badminton classes are only part of building their character and boosting their confidence. Their energy is now being channelized towards constructive activities,” says Jambay.
As the number of students has increased, the two badminton courts are becoming inadequate to accommodate the eager learners. Councillor Abhishek Dutt has made the effort to install lights on the courts so the children can play even after dark. Jambay has divided the kids in batches and ends up leaving the court well after 9 pm.
“I will need some help managing them. It’s a great responsibility, and I love being around them. I’m not a strict teacher. They come regularly, with their water bottles in their hands and racquets strapped to their backs, wearing clothes comfortable for playing. I don’t have to ask them to be on time or to be disciplined,” he says.
Jambay’s students are making him proud by winning titles in inter-school matches. Neha Singh and Komal Chauhan have even won inter-zonal sub-junior matches recently. Other students too, are catching up. Rachael Gudiya, Anchali Gudiya, Pooja Kumari, Udit Sharma and Kunal Nayak have won prizes in inter-school tournaments. Udit’s father works as a peon in an office, while Kunal’s father is a cook in a house in Defence Colony. Many others have the potential to perform well at tournaments too, feels Jambay. He has high hopes for his students and is currently striving to get them admitted to private sports training centres.
“They’ll need indoor courts, better equipment to be able to improve. I am sure that they’ll grow up to be wonderful players and human beings,” he says.
To know more about Jambay’s work and to support his cause, you can contact him here.