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International player from Manipur forced to sell fruits to fund her upcoming tournament

In a heart-wrenching story, Diana Ningombam who is an international taekwondo player has been selling fruit salads on the streets of Imphal in a bid to raise funds for her upcoming tournament.

Hailing from Manipur, Diana started mastering Taekwondo in 2006. After perfecting the sport, she grew from strength to strength where she alone won 15 medals at the national level as well as in international events which include silver in Kukkiwon, South Korea in 2018.

Her daily routine is that she wakes up at 3 am to make preparations and thensells fruit salads from 4 am to 7 am. After that, she hits practice session in the evening at the Langjing Achouba Makha Leikai (a local sports complex) where she has been preparing for forthcoming tournament which will be held in Hong Kong.

She was very much particular about not wanting to give a burden to her parents for her expenses and training equipment. Her father is a printing machine mechanic and her mother works at a market.

Diana Ningombam always had one thing in mind. To set a great example of being independent and not to rely on others for jobs.

In an interview, she explained the reason why she started to sell fruit salads and she wouldn’t feel anything about it. All that kept running in her mind was to make the country proud by participating in tournaments.

She told The Bridge, “I wanted to set an example that we shouldn’t be dependent on others for our jobs. All of us can do the work and earn the money whenever we need. Though I’m a player, I think I too can do the same. That’s the reason why I started to sell fruit salads.”

She also went on to explain how she struggled initially when money became the prime factor in setting foot in the sports field.

“When I first stepped into sports, we required money to buy only sports tracksuits but players now have to manage their own transportation fees which is really hard for players belonging from poor family backgrounds,” she said.

She added that she earns somewhere between Rs 300-400 from her small scale business in a day.

She further told IFP, “Almost all of my customers encourage me, there are also some who give me more than the actual price of the salad as an act of encouragement and support.”

Seeing this heartbreaking picture, people credited her for her grit and dedication.

Written by Sagar Abhinandan

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