Syed Taha 24, a young Taekwondo player is all set to become the first NIS-qualified coach of Kashmir, hailing from the Narbal area of District Budgam, Taha is also known as a poster boy of Kashmir. He started playing Tawkando when he was just 3 years of age.
Taha has won multiple gold medals at the district and state levels, and He went undefeated in 25 championships within j&k state from 2007 to 2012.
" There are three hundred Taekwondo players in Kashmir who are without coaching, it's unfortunate that many Taekwondo athletes are leaving this due to the non-availability of NIS coaches, " said Taha. Despite the terrible times and situations that most sportsmen in Kashmir confront.
Syed Taha has carved his way into the world of taekwondo, leaving permanent fingerprints on it on a global scale, and is aiming for the 2024 Paris Olympics.
"One could easily scarcely brick up his thoughts and create the castle of his dreams if he was born to grasp the state of chaos and uncertainty. Hailing from an area of infested tensions and insurrection couldn't stop me from making it to the international level. When I started my career, my delicate limbs stumbled to stand while kicking. I have struggled a lot during my twenty years of Tawankando career. I curfews time, when transport remains off the roads. I used to cover a distance of miles to reach the stadium. said, Taha
Earlier, taha was widely criticized by the different sections of society for choosing this as a profession. " Even my elders used to tell me not to waste time on some fuss that has no future. Despite all of this, I proved my doubters wrong and made the Indian team, " says Taha.
Taha is hopeful to compete in the Paris Olympics and wants to become the first Taekwondo player from the valley.
In 2010, he made history by becoming the youngest player to participate in the Commonwealth baton relay at the Commonwealth Games in India. He has dominated the Taekwondo arena for a long time, becoming the youngest from the Kashmir Valley to play senior national for J&K in 2018 and competing in the international Olympic ranking championship after only one year. He has performed in almost every opportunity he has got.
Despite his success to date, Syed Taha believes he could have played many more international matches but has struggled due to a lack of professional coaching facilities.
"For many years, I used to train under the NIS coach of wushu Nisar Ahmad Mir who is also the coach of the Jammu and Kashmir centre police team due to a lack of qualified NIS coaches in Taekwondo. It was very difficult to train under a wushu coach despite being a Taekwondo player. Many brilliant players, like myself, are suffering and are concerned about their careers due to a lack of qualified coaches," Taha added.
He used to train at the Atul International Taekwondo Academy in Jammu, which is over 300 kilometers away from my home. " Because I was enrolled in Kashmir University, I was unable to concentrate on my studies. I believe that many other players have suffered in the same way that I have, but I have decided to do NIS coaching for a year so that I may contribute to the future of Taekwondo. I don't want young players to give up on their aspirations because of a lack of qualified NIS coaches" Taha added.
He missed many national championships due to unpeaceful situations in Kashmir but he kept his nerves and followed his passion these disappointments couldn't stop him from becoming an international player and is eying the Olympic games. To make his focus he is also a part-time cricketer and is an inter-university gold medalist and cricket presidents Cup gold medalist. Also kickboxing and karate national player as well as wushu, state gold medalist.
Syed Taha is battling with an ACL injury that happened during an international match. He has been operated on some days before and will hopefully come back at the end of the year. He has got the potential, experience, and achievement that everybody believes in him and that he will make it to the Paris Olympics. He has contributed a lot in the sports field and has changed the negative mindset of the people through his achievements and passion and is believed to be a future olympian.
The majority of athletes in Kashmir begin their martial arts career in Taekwondo, but after 8 to 10 years, they switch to wushu, judo, or another sport, all due to a lack of NIS-qualified coaches, making it difficult for them to focus on goals.
The unrest in Kashmir proved detrimental to Taha as he missed the All India University National in Taekwondo after being selected as a captain of the University of Kashmir. Missing almost all eight nationals due to the unprecedented situation in Kashmir. " Despite being excellent players of the time, players like me moved to Jammu, Delhi, and Madhya Pradesh in search of professional coaches to attain goals, " Taha added.
All the time, people used to tell my parents that their son is wasting his time and that he should focus on his studies. Due to a negative mindset in society, people used to think Taekwondo was just like normal fighting, which was not good for children.
They didn't understand that it is a sport for which Taha suffered a lot. Due to Taha's constant efforts and temperament, he has changed this negative perception of people now they send their kids to martial arts and they now tell him that it's all because of Taha. " But I want to achieve more, I want to set a standard for me and upcoming players and I don't want to see the upcoming and younger players go through what I have faced so far, " Taha wrapped up.
Taha opined that the Government should step in to take practical initiatives and save the deteriorating and bleak future of Taekwondo players throughout the valley.
He emphasized that district-wise, NIS coaches should be appointed through which the hidden talents and exposure can be explored by budding players, in the field of Taekwondo.
(Mubashir Naik is an independent Journalists based in Jammu & Kashmir and tweets at @sule_khaak)
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