Weightlifting in India
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Sebastian Gerl, a Sports Science student at Goethe University in Frankfurt am Main, reports on his internship at Pro Sports Development in India.

I am located in Orissa, one of the poorest states of the subcontinent on the East Coast, the Bay of Bengal. Some months ago I came across an internship opportunity at Pro Sports Development, an NGO which understands sport as an instrument for development aid.

The idea
Building and establishing a sustainable sports culture there, where there are no funds, where many people are still considered as Dalit, "untouchable".

Cricket, badminton, volleyball as well as local sports such as kho kho or kabaddi are being offered in and outside the school sports curriculum. On top of that, talented children and young people from the underprivileged classes get the opportunity to ascend to an elite level through an appropriate infrastructure.

Sports culture

The sports culture includes role models and idols who show others a way, who carry others along, and here I come into play. Not as an idol, even though at this spot in the world I quite often have to serve as a kind of trophy in front of cameras and now know that I can`t shake more than three hands at once – with one hand. No, I bring along the expertise, so to speak, that I gained in my Sports Science studies at the Goethe University in the last few years.

The goal
The goal is to win medals in Olympic weightlifting. Strange isn't it? In development aid? But weightlifting enjoys great popularity in this area. Apart from that, on the way up, it´s not only about absolute performance. Like many other sports, the training in the gym imparts affiliation, creates self-esteem, expands awareness for health, responsibility, values and eventually even provides support and perspectives on one´s own life.

If my team and I release this potential and bring even only two or three of these young talents onto the big sports stage, our vision would be fulfilled. A little dreamy, admittedly, but sometimes you have to be the first.

India is crazy – for me this is as clear as the sandal print on my feet. It is a kind of circus, an adventure, an orderly chaos. But it's good as it is. It works - more or less - and for the less the people have a great humour.  I`ve never known people to be so unbiased and helpful. I for one was formally absorbed into society.

[This article was edited by the Operating Team]




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