This girl is facing a major problem.
Do you know who she is? Miss Universe contestant? Cinema star? She could become any of these if she wants. (She has reportedly turned down a few movie offers.) Right now, she is focused on squash racquets though. Not just another squash player, but one who could reach the top given the right support. She has won several international titles and is the current British Open (under17) champion.
She is Dipika Rebecca Pallikal from Chennai. Coming from a family of sportspersons in Kerala, this young lady is all of sixteen, going on seventeen (born: 21 September 1991). Among senior women players this kid is ranked No.2 in India and 62 by the Women's International Squash Professional Association (WISPA). That was a big jump from 91 in May 2007.
With all the time spent on squash, she still earned 70% marks in her school exams. One casualty though was classical dance, which she had to give up.
I have not met Dipika. But I am impressed by way she gratefully acknowledges on her website (http://www.dipikapallikal.com/) the contribution of her coaches and others in making her what she is today. That shows character.
Dipika Pallikal now has the famous Egyptian, Amir Wagh, as her coach. She was preparing for the Asian Squash Championships to be held in Kuwait this month from 14 to 21. With medal hopes, obviously.
Then came the bomb – Dipika Pallikal is not included in the Indian team for the tournament! Players ranked much below her are in.
The reason? Certainly not her form. She won the British Open only last month in spite of a back problem. It seems that Dipika did not meet the officials and personally seek permission to skip the selection trials at Chennai in January. Instead she sent them an email explaining that she was undergoing treatment for back pain at the time of the camp. Some other players were exempted from the trials and still selected.
The matter is now before the Delhi High Court. According to the media, Justice Gita Mittal who heard the case stated that only a team selected on merit should be sent to Kuwait. Notices have been issued to the Sports Authority of India (SAI) and to the Squash Racquet Federation of India (SRFI). The case comes up again on February 12.
Dipika Pallikal is just sixteen years old! Will the trauma affect the kid’s career? I hope Indian sports will not lose this rising star.
Also see: Cricket: Rahul Dravid’s ‘colonel’ bogey