Ronak Riyaz, A Kashmiri Girl Makes A Global Mark In Martial Arts

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Martial Arts

Sumayyah Qureshi          Martial Arts

Braving bad weather and unfavourable law and order situations, Ronak Reyaz would set off every Sunday with her mother from their village Magraypora at Sopore in Baramulla district and travel to the Nowhatta area of Srinagar. The routine was never disrupted in two years — 2018 and 2019 — as she trained in a martial arts form thang ta with a coach at the Gojwara Club in Nowhatta. Her mother, Hafeeza, would wait outside the academy for the whole day till Ronak’s class was over.

Baramulla had no academy where sportspersons could train, Ronak said, urging the government to set up one in her district where they could practice. Ronak, 16, a Class X student at SRM Welkin, Sopore, has won many national and international competitions. Her hard work finally paid off in 2018 when she won the fourth International Thang Ta Championship. Her latest win was in August this year when she clinched a gold in the fifth International Thang Ta Championship in South Korea. But the road ahead does not seem easy. Her constant worry is who will fund her next event.

Her school also had not been supportive and she had, time and again, been asked to give up training and concentrate on her studies, said her mother. Ronak, however, says she manages and balances both studies and sports well. She is currently a blue belt holder and has a long way to earn a black belt.

Ronak started practising the martial arts form with a teacher in her school in 2014 and won her first district championship. Now she has her eyes set on the Asian and the World Championships.

Her mother Hafeeza said the government had been harping on ‘Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao’ but on the ground it translated into nothing. It stressed on encouraging sports persons but there had been no government support to her. “We have been financing her. We had to arrange Rs75,000 entry fee for the South Korea meet in August, when everything was shut,” she said. Her South Korea trip cost us Rs 2,00,000, she added.

Hafeeza said she felt sportspersons from rural areas were being neglected by the government. “She has struggled and reached to this level and brought laurels to the state and the country but we have never been approached by the authorities for any kind of help.”

Ronak says girls should learn martial arts for self-defence. Many boys and girls meet her and tell her that they too want to practice various martial arts forms but there are constraints — lack of coaches and academies.(TNS)

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