Fourteen children, who survived cancer and represented India at World Children’s Winners Games held in Moscow, Russia, have brought home 26 medals! The event, which is held for children who have overcome oncological diseases, is being held for seven years. This is the fourth year Indian players have taken part in the games. Over 600 children from 16 countries participated in the games this year.
India was represented by children between the age group of 7 and 16, and they won eight gold, 10 silver and eight bronze medals. Kayan Anklesaria who won four medals, maximum by an Indian participant in this edition of the games, got a chance to take part in the closing ceremony. All the 14 children, who took part in the games, had undergone treatment at Tata Memorial Hospital (TMH) in Mumbai.
“This is a proud moment for us. Treatment can cure their disease. They get real happiness comes from such grand success. Such competitions are necessary to develop their personality,” said Dr Shripad D Banavali, professor and head of the department of medical and paediatric oncology, TMH.
The tournament has six categories – football, table tennis, riffle shooting, swimming, running and chess. The participants were identified by a volunteer team of the paediatric oncology department at TMH, and their coaching was arranged. “I keep a record of every child admitted here and through counselling, realise their aptitude and potential for sports. That’s how a team is formed”, informed Dr Ameeta Bhatia, voluntary social worker, divison of peadiatric oncology, TMH.
The training session for this year started in March, and the children had to juggle their studies and training. “My hard work paid off. I am really happy to have won the medals. I would like to pursue sports in future as well,” said 15-year-old Neha Konar, who won two gold medals, one each in football and chess. She overcame blood cancer three years ago.
Like Neha, Heet Bhatia, who won a gold in riffle shooting and a bronze in football, has also beaten blood cancer. The 10-year-old expressed his joy over winning the medals and wishes to pursue a career in football.
“We adopted different coaching methods for them. Considering their stamina, we gave them frequent breaks during training sessions.” said Rohit Maurya, football coach of the team.
World Children’s Winners Games isn’t merely a sporting event. It celebrates these children’s victory over illness. “Children are mentally stronger than the adults. They can overcome illnesses easily because of their strong will power. They are positive and full of love for life. Adults have a lot learn from them,” said Dr Bhatia.