Mrigendra Singh, (Lucknow, UP), graduated from Azim Premji University with an MA in Development and has always been passionate about teaching children. Since then, Mrigendra has been on the move to know his purpose in life and has gathered cherished experiences over the period, before taking charge of the Academic Support role at Anantapur Sports Academy (ASA) in the month of August 2017. ASA is a sport-for-development initiative by Rural Development Trust, Andhra Pradesh.
One of his favourite hobbies is cycling, and he has many stories to share. We asked him about those stories and his experience at ASA with the children.
Q: Could you tell us about your relationship with cycling? How has it been over the years?
Mrigendra Singh (MS): It all started in 2012 when I started cycling with a friend in Bangalore while I was doing my Masters at Azim Premji University. Soon I started cycling in Bangalore and later at the nearby Nandi Hill. But then I wanted to challenge myself and aim higher. That’s when I decided to cycle from Bangalore to Lucknow with ₹150 in my pocket, and faith in the people I would meet on the way. This was all a process for me to know myself.
Cycling was a great tool which made me realise that anything in this world is achievable – and it will come from within, you don’t need anything else. And the more I cycled, the more I got to know my strengths and weaknesses.
Q: How was your experience with the Bangalore-Lucknow cycling expedition? It seems to have impacted you immensely? Could you tell us about the cycling expedition?
MS: I started cycling from Bangalore on November 1, 2015, and it took me 19 days to reach Lucknow. As I said earlier, I wanted to push my limits. Moreover, the real inspiration was my sister to whom I wanted to dedicate my trip as a wedding gift. The journey became more important as I had to attend my sister’s wedding in Lucknow. So there was a bit of a pressure to reach back in one piece, literally. (Laughs)
Q: Could you tell us about what you like the most about working in Anantapur Sports Academy?
MS: The best thing about working in ASA is that I get to teach around 160 children and in return, each child has a different thing to teach me. Each day holds a new thing to learn. As per my role, I assist children in learning English and also assist the coaches when they take life-skills classes for the children.
Q: What hopes do you have for children in ASA?
MS: Children at ASA are quite amazing. Most of the children join the academy at a young age and pass out when they finish their education. I have always tried to inculcate a habit in children of questioning things, and to make them understand that sports are just one aspect of their life. I have tried to tell them to make each experience in sports a learning opportunity, which would help them in life.
Q: What change have you noticed since your arrival at ASA?
MS: The age group of the children is quite diverse, from 8-23, years and all of them are from a sports background. The children here are quite quick in picking new things up. Over the months they have started expressing themselves more, and have become more mature. Playing sports at various levels has made them strong enough to overcome anything.
I am very thankful to ASA for this opportunity.
Q: Pre-class conversation you have with yourself?
MS: Firstly, I prepare all the topics before each class and tell myself to stay as composed as possible if the class doesn’t go as planned. It’s like always being ready for the ‘Plan-B’.
Q: Every day is a lesson you learn from. Tell us one of the things you cherish about being with children at ASA?
MS: We as grownups, tend to put a lot of expectations on ourselves. And when, sometimes, we are not able to cope with them, we lose our heart. But in the case of children, they aim for small targets and accomplish the goal.
Q: Any role model you have in your life?
MS: Yes, my parents have been my role model and have been my constant source of energy.
Q: Share with us your New Year resolution for 2018?
MS: Well, it’s a difficult thing, but it will always be to stay positive and to be present in the moment!