THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: S L Narayanan has loads of talent. But the 18-year-old does not have a purse deep enough to meet the expenses that a career in top-flight chess demands.
Narayanan, who won bronze at the 55th World Junior Chess Championship in Bhubaneswar on August 21, has to shell out Rs 25-30 lakh every year. But he has no sponsor and is relying on loans taken by his father for his trips.
“Narayanan aims to be one of the best in India and represent the country in international stages including the World Championships in three years’ time. But to progress beyond a point in chess is a costly affair,” said Sunilduth Padmanabhan, Narayanan’s father. Narayanan can only afford 30 days of advanced training from a reputable foreign coach a year. Even that costs his family Rs 7 lakh. “Most of the coaches charge around USD 60 per hour. The rate will go up for reputed coaches,” said Narayanan.
Travel and accommodation during major tournaments, mainly in Europe, adds to his expense. However, those trips are essential for him to gain international exposure and improve his FIDE ratings. In the 2014-15 season, Narayanan had to spend nearly Rs 13 lakh. His next major event is at the Isle of Man. “It will cost around Rs 3.5 lakh to make it to the nine-day tournament. We are unsure if we can afford it,” said Sunilduth.
The Kerala State Sports Council has given Narayanan Rs 27 lakh for training so far in two instalments in 2013-14 and 14-15. However, it is not yet known if the government will continue to provide the assistance.
“We have approached several companies for sponsorship but have been turned down every time. I have spent around Rs 60 lakh on his career so far and this year I have Rs 5 lakh outstanding on loans,” said Sunilduth, who quit his job years ago to build Narayanan’s career. His mother, Lyna, is an LIC employee.
Narayanan, a first-year degree student, said the only aid he has received so far from outside the government was from Infosys co-founder Kris Gopalakrishnan who sent him Rs 3.25 lakhs to travel to Tukey for the World Junior Championship in 2014.