I belong to the school of thought that strongly believes sports must be an integral part of a child’s growing up years. This thought drove me, with the help of my wife, to inspire and motivate our son to take up a sporting activity seriously. It is not with the intention that he must necessarily excel in, but primarily to keep him occupied doing something constructive for a couple of hours each day. Sports, after all, inspires life.
Since I am also very passionate about sports, apart from other benefits, I thought enrolling my son in a sports academy will be a great idea to improve my camaraderie with him. There will be something common to talk about. I will listen to him about his time at the academy, his progress, and his dreams.
As he was growing up, there were stories of successful sportsmen to share with him. Also, his mother inculcated a sense of discipline, breaking down his day to the different activities, be it school homework, playing video games on the mobile, watching TV, or developing new hobbies. Like all parents, we also try our best to give him a good platform to explore the world.
The day he turned 8, he was told in no uncertain terms that apart from his schoolwork, he must express his choice of a sport that he would want to seriously learn. The next two years were an experiment. They were spent taking him to a cricket academy, helping him learn to play table tennis, skating, even Hockey at his school.
During this journey, I realised the wonders this was doing to us as a family. Suddenly the quality of time that we spent together took a huge jump. There was so much more to talk about between us. His stories about what he did at the academy added fun and beauty to our conversations. He was excited. Both I and my wife were just happy to see him enjoy himself.
Two years after experimenting with different games, to add another skill, we took him to a shooting academy. One of the most cherished memories I have of his to date is the first time he held an air pistol and fired at a target. From then on, our journey turned even more beautiful. What started as a weekend hobby suddenly became a passion for my son. From weekends, it came down to three days a week, and finally three hours each day in the entire week. Taking him for his practice sessions is now a daily routine that cannot be sacrificed at any cost.
Watching the progress of his game gives goosebumps.
Shooting is now my son’s most serious passion. He loves his time at the range. He enjoys visiting different cities for his championships. He likes it, even more, when we travel as a family for his events. Both I and my wife have spent hours, just sitting at the range on weekends, and watching him practice his routines – the physical exercises, concentration to take aim and the thrill of hitting good scores.
As his game improved, we travelled to different towns and cities to help him get the right exposure and enjoy his game even further. There were road trips to small towns like Bulandshahr, Bijnore, Meerut, Shamli, Faridabad, to name a few. Even longer trips ones to cities like Jaipur, Patna, Ahmedabad, and Bhopal.
Each trip for a championship is a cherished memory. These are family outings. The thought of spending a great time together as a family is enough of a lure for me and my wife to be active participants in his journey.
Today my son is 12 and a national-level shooter. He also has a couple of medals and certificates to show for his efforts. For him, what shooting has done is inculcated a sense of discipline, given him a reason to look forward to a constructive activity each day. Most importantly, it has inspired him to dream big and taught him to deal with disappointments. For us as parents, it has helped the family bond better. There is a lot of quality time we spend together. This apart, the sheer excitement to see our son enjoy his sport doing something that will help him become a better human being, and teach him huge lessons in life is the biggest reward we are getting as parents.
Nakul Shivani is a former Senior Executive Producer at TV18 Broadcast Limited.