CHENNAI: Robin Charles Raja and his wife Angela Lincy had played a role in arranging a conditioning camp at the Sports Development Authority of Tamil Nadu (SDAT) complex in Chennai in 2010.
They had invited a USA-based coach, Craig Schwink, to come over for a session.
While the course had absolutely nothing to do with Abhisheka Shannon, the couple’s daughter, it’s fair to say that this course laid the foundation for what she would end up doing — playing squash. The couple had chanced upon a trainer and before long, they were swapping phone numbers with the idea of enrolling Abhisheka in a squash camp.
Much to their wonder, she took to the game like fish to water. The 12-year-old, who considers Nicole David her hero, picks up the story. “When I was small, I used to dabble in football and tennis as well but it’s all squash now,” she says.
Her proudest moment yet was winning the under-11 nationals in 2014. She is not going to give up her education for the sake of squash but is very clear on what she wants to do: “I want to make a career out of squash.”
Robin isn’t surprised by that. Sport runs in their family like Usain Bolt on track. Robin is Tamil Nadu’s football coach, Angela is a former high jumper who held the Indian women’s record for many years and their elder daughter, Steska Sharon, has played Under-17 football for TN at the national level.
“You need to push some kids into sport, but I never had any problems with Abhisheka. In fact, some days I deliberately did not take her to training because she was just so small,” says Robin.
“When you ask her to get ready, she will be there with her full kit 30 minutes before leaving. She is so passionate about squash that we couldn’t stop her.”
Those could easily be misconstrued as words of an overzealous father, but Abhishekha’s youth career is headed in the right direction.
That assertion could face a fillip soon as she plays in the trials to be a part of the squad for the Asian juniors championships, which will take place later this year.