Tag - sports

Help me empower underprivileged girl children


Raised Rs. 6,53,336 with the help of 154 supporters.

I am looking to raise funds to support the NGO ‘Just For Kicks’ program of imparting life skills through football, for 100 girls in the Dharwad district of Karnataka. ‘Just For Kicks’ in partnership with Enabling Leadership Foundation(ELF) is already running a pilot across 8 villages in Dharwad and witnessing phenomenal results with the girls becoming increasingly self-aware and confident through a game that’s been tainted as being a boy’s sport. With the football at their feet, these girls are now starting to dream big and question the status quo. Inspired by this progress, I am now looking to spearhead the expansion of ‘ Just For Kicks’ programming in rural Karnataka with the vision of reaching 100 more girls by next year.

Program cost for one child over one year: 6500 Rs / 100$. This cost includes: 48 training sessions, Training Gear For Each Child – Studs, Shinguards, Jerseys, Orientation Sessions For School and Parents, Participation in ‘Just For Kicks’ League games, Access to scouting opportunities and scholarships, Individual child and team assessment reports.

My piece in the puzzle:

Long before I fell in love with the cause of Just For Kicks, I fell in love with the beautiful game of football.

What I learned from football – Grit, Respect, Empathy, Courage, Teamwork, Leadership and most importantly Love. It is safe to say that Football has sculpted my personality in multiple ways. Growing up as a footballer and representing the Indian U-17 squad, I found myself feeling constantly underwhelmed by our facilities, resources and lack of support structures. Injuries bogged me down and I increasingly found myself fighting an uphill battle not just against the structures in place but also the culture around the sport. To that end, I fell prey to our failing sports/talent management system.

Having finished my engineering and working a run of the mill consulting gig for a year – I decided to fight back. I pursued the Teach for India fellowship and then completed my Masters in Public Administration from Columbia University with the hope of coming back to India to ensure that each child has the opportunity to play the beautiful sport and has the opportunity to take up the sport if he/she is passionate about it. As I look to champion the cause that ‘Just For Kicks’ has valiantly taken up, I realise that I need all the support I can get to fulfill the vision of reaching 1 million children by the year 2025 and making sure that no child falls through the cracks of our nation’s faltering sporting system.

Just For Kicks is a school intervention program working towards teaching children through a life skills-based football curriculum invaluable lessons of commitment, confidence, self-awareness, and grit. We work in the 5 Indian cities namely Bangalore, Hyderabad, Mumbai, Pune, and Chennai, and the rural district of Dharwad in Karnataka in schools catering to students from the bottom of the economic pyramid. We believe in #EveryonePlays and begin working with children, both boys and girls, as young as 7 years old and continue training with them till the age of 16, through an ongoing collaboration with their schools.

Enabling Leadership is a Netherlands-based non-profit organisation that uses innovative mediums of music and sports to foster valuable life skills of leadership, creativity, confidence and global citizenship among marginalised children who have limited or no access to high quality education systems.

Why Focus on Girls: Football acts as an equalizer where in once you step onto the pitch – gender, socioeconomic background, social class don’t matter. This pitch then becomes symbolic of a free society where in all are equals, thus affording a girl child to express herself, uninhibited by constraints of our society. This expression then translates into various values such as grit and confidence being built up in the girl child that nudge the society to view them as equals and subsequently create a cycle of systemic change led by a mentality shift.

Donate and be a part of the football revolution where girls will play alongside boys, and all students will receive equal opportunity irrespective of their gender and socioeconomic status.

If you or anyone you know, is struggling to pay to get trained in the sport they love, go ahead and start a fundraiser on Ketto.

The Year That Was (Highlights of 2014)

Review of year 2014

Catch the highlights of Ketto’s journey through the year 2014.

By co-founder and CEO, Varun Sheth

The year 2014 has been eventful, to say the least. We launched Ketto 2.0 in June 2014 and it’s been one milestone after the next since. The second half of year 2014 amazed us. Over 300 campaigns ran on Ketto this past year.  Over 6000 supporters rallied together from more than 20 countries to raise above Rs.2 crore for some awesome, heartfelt causes. There were some incredible campaigns that really showed the world what generosity of spirit is all about.

It’s been an incredible journey for Ketto. We saw a huge rise in individual participation, with people starting their own campaigns for social change. We also launched a new feature called the “microsite” which allows NGOs, events & corporates to run their own fundraising website on the Ketto platform.

We’ve rounded off the year with more amazing developments. Ketto has now opened its doors to creative projects. So artistes, musicians, filmmakers, creators of all kinds can now start crowdfunding their creative projects on our crowdfunding website. Talk about ending the year with a bang!

We can’t wait for 2015 to get started!

Here are just a few highs to remember 2014 by.


Indians came together to support their sportspeople. Several campaigns were run by and for Olympic Gold Quest and GoSports Foundation. Luger Shiva Keshavan, speed walker KT Irfan, rifle shooters Ayonika Paul and Pooja Ghatkar, discus thrower Vikas Gowda, para-athlete Rajni Jha and swimmer Supriyo Mondal are just some of the wickedly talented sportspeople who got the funds they needed to train and participate in the Winter & Youth Olympics, Asian games and commonwealth games! And yes, they won several medals along the way!



There have been several marathons that campaigners have used to propel their social causes forward. Hyderabad Marathon, Bengaluru Marathon, Mumbai Marathon, Boston Heartbreak Marathon are just a few. Then there was Pinkathon, the marathon event that raised awareness for breast cancer. Several marathoners chose to start campaigns to raise both awareness and funds for breast cancer treatment. Footsteps4Good was another themed marathon that asked participants to fundraise for a social cause. Several participants chose to do it online on Ketto, much to our pleasure!


animal welfareAnimal Welfare

Our furry friends were not forgotten. TIGI Foundation ran an amazing campaign to build an animal shelter. The NGO pulled out all the stops by organizing a football event and promoting it with a campaign on Ketto. Bollywood stars like Hrithik Roshan, Aamir Khan, Salman Khan, Abhishek Bachchan, Imraan Khan and several others attended and played on the football field. All in support of TIGI’s fundraising campaign. What an event it was!

It wasn’t all glitz and glam though. NGO Alokparna Sengupat ran a campaign to protect animals from being needlessly sacrificed at Gandhimai, raising funds and awareness for the noble cause.


Womens EmpowermentWomen’s Empowerment

Women’s empowerment took a big step this year. The NGO YUWA joined forces with the channel Star Sports to help send a football team consisting of Jharkhand’s tribal girls to participate in the USA Cup. They ran multiple campaigns and promoted their cause on television as well. The result? Well, the girls went to the USA Cup and did India proud.

Khabar Lahariya, a rural-language newspaper run entirely by rural women, ran a massive 12th anniversary campaign to keep their groundbreaking newspaper going strong. Many individuals started campaigns in support of the newspaper, and their anniversary campaign certainly was a happy one!


kashmirDisaster Relief

The devastating Jammu & Kashmir floods saw Ketto spurring into action. We partnered with Care India and within minutes, help began to pour in from all corners of the globe. Celebrities like Hrithik Roshan, Varun Dhawan, Abhishek Bachchan, Kunal Kapoor, Dia Mirza and Nargis Fakhri began campaigns in aid of the flood victims. Fans of the celebrities rallied in support of their favourite actor’s campaign and some even began their own campaigns to support the cause further. The initiative showed the true spirit of our nation’s people.



Jasmeet Singh Gandhi ran an amazing campaign for the cause of childhood eye cancer. He called his campaign Umeed 1000, and chose to bicycle 1,000 kilometres from Mumbai to Bengaluru to raise awareness and funds to treat children affected by retinoblastoma (eye cancer). This incredible campaigner promoted his cause heavily and drew in seven corporate sponsors in addition to individual supporters. What a campaign this was!



The red light area and all its inhabitants may be taboo in polite society, but people sure did come together in support of a worthy cause. Shweta Katti, the daughter of a sex worker, had earned a scholarship to study at New York’s Bard University but needed funding for living and other expenses. Her campaign on Ketto got her all the funding she needed. This was a campaign that brought a young girl’s dream to life!


dcbEmployee Engagement & Hiring

Here are some heartwarming campaigns with Corporate Social Responsibility. DCB Bank used Ketto’s crowdfunding platform as a task for one of their recruitment rounds. Several prospective employees were given a deadline within which to raise as much as they could for the Jammu & Kashmir flood victims. A healthy competition with heart!


personalPersonal Causes

We had some fascinating campaigns run by people for their own noble causes. Like Bhakti Sharma, an open-water swimmer, who campaigned to raise funds to swim the Antarctica (the coldest ocean on Earth). There was also the campaign for teenage karate prodigies Bhavisha Singh, Sharmila Gharu and Divya Kathawate that gathered hundreds of supporters. The girls have won hundreds of medals but are still unknown. Logical Indian decided to campaign for the teenagers and hundreds of very logical Indians joined the effort too!

Then there’s Vivek Vashist’s memorable campaign. A Teach for India fellow, he planned to bicycle from Delhi’s India Gate to Mumbai’s Gateway of India to raise awareness about the environment and funds to participate in the International Antarctic Expedition. What an inspiration!

And the most endearing campaign of them all is for Vijayan and Mohanna, an elderly Kochi couple who owns a little tea stall. What is so inspiring about them is that they have travelled the world with the earnings they make. They take a loan to travel and then work the next three years to repay the loan. The news website The News Minute decided to campaign to help them visit the United States since their age is causing banks to reject loans. The campaign raised a good amount for the Kochi couple, and we wish them happy journeys!


Social EntrepreneurshipSocial Entrepreneurship

Aakar Innovations, a for-profit social enterprise founded by two young and passionate social entrepreneurs, began a brilliant campaign to raise awareness and funds for women’s empowerment. Their initiative involved not only educating underprivileged women on sanitary habits but teaching them how to make low-cost sanitary pads and promote sanitary awareness. A truly empowering initiative!

The year that was has been an amazing ride for Ketto. We can’t wait to see what the future holds. Here’s to the future. Here’s to a better world. Here’s to seeing some incredible creative projects come to life. To infinity and beyond!

– Varun Sheth

Rajni Jha: Her Success is India’s Pride


Rajni Jha is an incredible para-athlete who, despite being afflicted by polio, hasn’t let it stop her from winning laurels. Hailing from Gwalior, this inspiring young woman set her focus straight ahead, and has been making strides in para-swimming events, both nationally and internationally.

The NGO GoSports soon spotted her talent and took her under its wing, sponsoring her through fundraising initiatives, such as her campaign on Ketto, so she could access the training and facilities she required.

Among her laurels is the Ekalavya award – the most prestigious sporting award for athletes at the state level – conferred on her in 2007 by the Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh. Rajni hasn’t looked back since, and has continued to win several medals nationally. In 2009, she won 4 Golds and 1 Bronze at the IWAS World Games in Bangalore. In 2012, she won 3 Golds and 1 Bronze at the National Para-Swimming Championships in Chennai. And in 2013, she won 2 Golds, 1 Silver and 1 Bronze at the same event held in Bangalore.

She’s gradually preparing to compete – and win – at the Rio Olympics to be held in 2016! You can cheer her on sooner, though! She’s also aiming to compete at the 2014 Asian Para Games in Incheon, Korea this October. Ra ra Rajni Jha!

Get to know more about Rajni Jha, one of India’s best para-swimmers, by clicking here to view her successfully-funded Ketto campaign!

Not Just A Sport Anymore

2All of us are brimming with passion. Some things that we are utterly passionate about can do us good. Sometimes, however, the things that we are passionate about can also do others good. Gurmangal Dass is an individual who turned his personal passion into a belief on a national scale.

He had a passion for sports. So after he was done with education, instead of opting for easy success and money, he chose the road less travelled. His main agenda was to revive sports across the state of Punjab, one village at a time. It seemed like an impossible task at first, but this gentleman was not about to quit easily.

It started off with the actual making of the football field with farmers traveling far distances to collect grass to make the field. Next came the part where youngsters were lured to take up this path and excel in the field of sports. What started as one man’s dream has now grown into a collective one. Today, there are over 40 students in the football academy and over 12 centres for coaching all over Punjab.

Heroes like Gurmangal Dass often go unnoticed. It is essential to acknowledge the presence and dedication of unsung heroes like him. It is people like these who, while they dream big, facilitate others in the pursuit of their own dreams too.

Race Against Time

Anirban 1

Meet Anirban Tarafdar, our Campaigner of the Week!

He’s challenged himself to complete a full marathon – the Hartford Full Marathon (in Hartford, Connecticut) in October 2014. That’s 26.2 miles of sheer determination and a whole lot of training going towards it. With his wife expecting to deliver their baby in July, this US-based marathoner has a tall order ahead of him. Currently juggling work and commuting with shared household duties, and making time for his family and fitness regime, Anirban Tarafdar is pushing his limits in a manner that has us awed.

Though he has been devoted to sports most of his life, etching out a regular timeslot for it has been a challenge. “Free time is hard to come by. Eleven years of working has made that apparent. Nowadays, whatever happens, I spend some time doing exercise unless my family needs me for something more important. I have programmed myself like that,” the 35-year-old shares. “I try to run 3-4 times a week and play tennis once a week. I use to play soccer on Friday late nights (11 p.m.) but had to stop because of my long runs over the weekend. I used to get hurt every now and then which hampered my running,” he explains.

Anirban’s association with marathons first began in 2005. “That’s when I first came to USA, to Tampa, Florida. I heard about a running group from a colleague and my interest was piqued. What inspired me was the human spirit to overcome the challenge of a long-distance run. During it, at some point the body gives up. Only those who continue to endure the pain and don’t quit reach the finish line. I think that is an amazing experience. I have run half marathons only but I am eager to experience the pain of 26 miles.” The marathoner has participated in 3 Half Marathons so far – two 10 kilometres and two 5 kilometres.

While following marathons, Anirban began to notice a trend – a lot of people would run to raise funds for a cause. “That gave me the idea. I had always wanted to do something for India. Since sport is my passion, I thought doing something for Indian sports would be perfect.”

“In the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics, the Indian participants did not even have proper clothes for the opening ceremony march past. I heard the television commentator remark that there were only three participants from a country of billions. As an Indian, it felt quite insulting.”

During the 2012 Olympics, Anirban came across a Facebook post by Olympic Gold Quest and got to know about their work to support Indian sportspeople. “Apart from a handful of sports, most Indian athletes do not get the necessary recognition and facilities. This is why I donated to Shiva Keshavan’s campaign last year. And why I did my own campaign and did my best to raise more funds. I am thankful to my friends who felt the same and supported the cause of Indian sports.”

“India does have the talent. If proper facilities and opportunity are provided, India can bring more medals in a lot of disciplines. If China can win so many medals in the Olympic,s India should be able to do so too. India should concentrate on Olympic sports. For example, swimming: if we have one champion swimmer he/she may participate in 4-5 events which will bring 4-5 medals. India should concentrate on events of these kinds to increase the medal count.”

Here’s to a brighter future for Indian sports. Here’s wishing Anirban all the best for the 2014 Hartford Full Marathon. And here’s wishing the Tarafdars all the best for the stalk that will be visiting them soon with their little bundle of joy!


Changing The Face Of Indian Sports

Ours is a cricket-loving nation. That is indubitable. The past few years may have seen football gradually getting its foot in the door (pardon the pun), but in terms of mass appeal and interest, that’s where the buck stops. The field of Indian sports has rather narrow parameters today. The amount of support – financial and otherwise – is gravely lacking when it comes to athletic sports and games.

Interestingly, even the craze for cricket seems reserved only for the national- and international-level competitions. State and college-level competitions don’t get much backing nor spectator interest. Where there are lakhs being spent on televising international competitions, with investments in multiple high-tech cameras and whatnots, state level competitions see a miniscule percentage of financial backing and very poor media coverage.

On one end of the spectrum is the advent of the IPL, which gave cricket furor a whole new glamorous dimension.  And at the other end of the spectrum is our ‘national sport’ hockey, which sadly gets played to near-empty stands. It is unsurprising then that Olympic track and field sports such as shot put, javelin throw, discus throw and others like speed walking, luge and air rifle shooting have little backing and still lesser audiences. Even major sporting events like the Commonwealth Games and the Olympics generate meagre levels of interest among sports enthusiasts in India.

It is a sobering truth that Olympic medal aspirants who are immensely talented are struggling to match international levels of competence because they don’t have the kind of facilities and infrastructure their foreign counterparts enjoy. Athletes like Shiva Keshavan (luger), KT Irfan (speed walker), Vikas Gawda (discus thrower), Pooja Ghatkar and Ayonika Paul (air rifle shooters) were lucky to have the NGO Olympic Gold Quest supporting them, helping them get the training and equipment they sorely needed to prepare for the  competitions.

It is a crying shame that KT Irfan initially trained without a proper pair of shoes because he couldn’t afford them. Today, this athlete – who is also an army man – is a national-record holder. Pooja Ghatkar made the daring decision to pursue rifle shooting over a mainstream career, even though she knew funds would be a constant struggle for her. She won the gold medal at the Asian Air Gun Championship in Kuwait this March, amongst other successes. Ayonika Paul, an incredibly disciplined athlete, realised she couldn’t ask her parents to fund her sporting career. Today, she has won multiple medals in the Senior National Championships.

These successes and future ones are India’s for the taking. All Indian sports needs is for us to believe in it. All our athletes need is for us to believe in them. The way Olympic Gold Quest has. The way Ketto has. They way you can. Fuel their journey to the 2016 Olympics in Rio. Support these amazing athletes and pave a path for a brighter future for Indian sports.

Ketto’s initiative for Indian Sports: http://ogq.ketto.org

Donations can be made here:

Pooja Ghatkar: http://ogq.ketto.org/campaign/campaign_details.php?fmd_id=89#.U4WEFJSSxF0

Ayonika Paul: http://ogq.ketto.org/campaign/campaign_details.php?fmd_id=94#.U4WD_ZSSxF0

KT Irfan: http://ogq.ketto.org/campaign/campaign_details.php?fmd_id=93#.U4XFKZSSxF0

Vikas Gowda: http://ogq.ketto.org/campaign/campaign_details.php?fmd_id=92#.U4XFLpSSxF0

Thank You!

Team Ketto

Ace Shooter Hits Bull’s-Eye


Ayonika Paul is one of four Olympic medal aspirants who, under the wing of Olympic Gold Quest (OGQ), is campaigning on Ketto to raise funds to compete with  her international counterparts.  Learn more about the ace shooter in this in-depth interview.

Ayonika Paul is a young and talented 22-year-old rifle shooter who has represented India in many international tournaments. She made her mark globally in 2008 when she won the gold medal in the International Junior Shooting Competition in Munich.

A complete all-rounder, Paul is also studying engineering in Bombay and is equally committed to sports and academics. She has won several medals in the Juniors category over the years and today she is a serious threat in the Seniors league with her consistently excellent performance. With her fierce dedication and determination, you can trust this woman to shoot a bullet right through the competition.

In this exclusive interview with Ketto, Paul speaks to us about her journey, how she balances her time between sports and academics and what she requires to make India proud at the next Commonwealth Games.

How were you introduced to this sport?

Summer holidays for me were about lazing around and also exploring different sports and arts. I indulged in many different sports like basketball, water-polo, skating and dancing, whereas swimming was a regular activity. However, when I heard about shooting I was thrilled because guns had always fascinated me. In my first inter-school competition, I scored 144 in open sight, and over time, the sport took me over. I couldn’t get enough and wanted to shoot regularly.

You are only 22 and you have achieved so much. How do you balance studies and play?

I have a good sense of time. Since I was a child, my mother would tell me that I need to first complete my studies and only then would I be allowed to go for my training. Even now that discipline works for me. Whenever I study, I am fully focused and the same applies to shooting. I carry my books during all my tournaments. I believe in quality over quantity and enjoy whatever I do each moment.

Walk us through your training regimen.

4 AM: Wake up

4.15 AM-7 AM: Study

7 AM: Breakfast

7 AM-9 AM: Nap

9.15 AM: Yoga

10 AM-1 PM: Training

1.15 PM: Lunch and Rest

2.30 PM-4 PM: Training

6 PM-7.30 PM: Swimming or Gymming and Stretching

8.30 PM: Dinner

10 PM: Sleep

How many hours a day do you  practice?

Four and a half to five hours a day.

What are the costs associated with your training?

My shooting jacket and trousers cost approximately Rs. 70,000. Shooting shoes cost Rs. 18,000. Weapons are  Rs.1,70,000. I also incur additional costs for physiotherapists and sports psychologists.
How would you compare the standard of training in India and that which is available abroad?

The past world champions and record holders are now into coaching and sharing their ideas and experiences. There is a path that they have found and they’re open to new ideas and experiments. They know how and when to peak. There is research and development on sports science, which is yet to be developed in India.

How is crowdfunding important to you and other rising athletes?

Individual sport is still not a recognized area. It is motivating for all athletes around the world to learn that our Olympic dreams are being supported by a number of people in our country. It boosts my confidence to train harder as I can go abroad for a longer training period and play more matches and leagues, thus taking me closer to the six coveted grams of gold.

Explain OGQ’s role in your life and career.

Whenever I wanted something in shooting, I asked my parents. But I realised that training under the best coaches and mental training would be too expensive. Even though I felt the need, I couldn’t ask them to fund it. OGQ has given me this opportunity. I have to walk this path to reach my destination and OGQ is the light to guide me along this journey. They have provided me with a sports psychologist and world-class physiotherapist, which is essential for me.

What systems, structures and establishments do we need in India to give Indian athletes a better chance at winning at the Olympics?

Good planning, research and development and strong belief in our athletes.

Want to help Ayonika realise her dream and bring home a medal for India? Support here!

Shooting For The Stars


Pooja Ghatkar is one of four Olympic medal aspirants who, with the support of Olympic Gold Quest (OGQ), is campaigning on Ketto to raise funds and compete with  her international counterparts.  

Pooja Ghatkar, a 25-year-old air rifle shooter, created history this March after clinching gold at the Asian Air Gun Championship in Kuwait by defeating world champions Yi Siling and Du Bei of China.

Ghatkar has proven her talent at various international tournaments  sports and plans to continue to shine at the international circuit in the upcoming World Cup competitions in Germany and Slovakia.

How were you introduced to this sport?

During my school days I started training under the National Cadet Corps as an extra activity. The main purpose behind this was to remain physically active. While going through the NCC camps, I was selected for the All India Thal Sainik Camp, Delhi, where I won a gold medal in the juniors category. But since I needed to focus on my academics at that point of time, I had to give up shooting. It was my mother’s belief and will that got me back into training for shooting again.

What is it like being a woman in a sport so closely associated with men?

For me, any sport is a sport, irrespective of whether the competitor is a man or a woman. Both require equal levels of stamina, hard work and concentration to excel. It is our mind which sets up these differences. In fact, I think shooting is more woman-oriented.  If we check the participation levels in shooting matches, the number of women participants is far more than men. The best part of shooting is that there is no age bar for competing. Everyone can enjoy the sport.

How many hours a day do you have to practice?

My training depends on my annual competition schedule.  Generally during a non-competition period I train for about 5-6 hours daily, which gradually increases as a match approaches.

What are the costs associated with your training?

Shooting is one of the most expensive of the sports. I am a rifle shooter and my basic requirements like rifle and shooting kit (jacket & trouser, shoes) cost around Rs 300,000. For my daily training, I need quality pellets to shoot, which cost Rs 900 for a tin with 500 pellets. In a year, I need approximately 80 pellet tins for training and matches.

I am also training under world record-holder Thomas Farnik. A seven-day training camp under him costs approximately Rs 300,000-350,000. These are a few important costs associated with my training.

How would you compare the standard of training in India to that which is available abroad?

India is still at a developing stage as compared to other marksman countries. The main drawback in India is the lack of quality Indian coaches.  A coach plays a very important role in any athlete’s life. If we look at China, we find that each athlete has his or her own team, which includes a personal coach, physical trainer, mental trainer, doctor and nutritionist who work with them. All these people plan a perfect routine for the athlete.  They consider each and every small aspect that can help the athlete improve. Such team work is not found in India. Every athlete needs good support and qualified people to show them the right way and to help them understand themselves better.

What has been your biggest achievement so far?

After wining various domestic and international competitions, my biggest achievement was winning the gold medal at the Asian Airgun Championship, Kuwait in March 2014 by defeating the World No. 1 and 2012 Olympic gold medalist.

How is crowdfunding important to you and other rising athletes?

According to me, crowdfunding is one of the best ways in which an athlete is helped to conquer his or her dreams through the common man.  People are able to know the athlete not after he or she wins an Olympic medal but before, and are able to help them on their road to success.  Crowdfunding will boost my confidence as people’s support and blessings are very precious to me. Indirectly, it shows the trust people have in an athlete. So the dream of an athlete doesn’t remain only to himself or herself but it is shared and becomes the dream of all Indians.

Explain OGQ’s role in your life and career.

The difference in me before and after becoming a part of OGQ is vast.  OGQ is like a strong ladder which is helping me climb each step firmly towards my goal. After OGQ offered to support me,  everything changed. I received proper technique and physical and mental approach towards shooting. OGQ has supported me in acquiring my new rifle, pellets, shooting kit and other small requirements. The team has helped me in participating in international invitation matches which helped me gain international exposure.  It was because of OGQ that I was able to train abroad under the world’s best coach. OGQ is like a family, which is always there to support you in times of need, push you when you feel low, drag you up when you are falling back and always be with you in each loss and win.


Want to be part of Pooja’s dream to bring laurels to India? Support her!

KT Irfan: The Malappuram Express


KT Irfan is one of four Olympic medal aspirants who, under the aegis of Olympic Gold Quest (OGQ), is campaigning on Ketto to raise funds and compete with  his international counterparts.  Learn more about the speed walker in this in-depth interview.

KT Irfan is fondly known as Malappuram Express, a moniker inspired by the name of the small Kerela town that he hails from. He became the pride of the nation after finishing 10th at the London Olympics in race walking, a sport rarely heard of in India.

Irfan’s contribution to India and sport is immense, and he consistently proves his mettle at international events and as a part of the Indian army. Irfan holds a national record in the 20 km race walk with a timing of 01.20.21 seconds. It is now time for the country to give back to this soldier who needs a helping hand to recreate magic at the upcoming Asian Games.

Here’s a Ketto exclusive as we talk with Irfan about how his relentlessly training, the costs he incurs and what this country needs to change the landscape of sports in India.

Tell us about your time in the Indian army.

I joined the army as part of the sports quota in March 2010. I trained under Subedar Ramkumar in the Madras Regimen Centre. I participated in the ATNK & K area meet and won the gold medal in 2010, clocking 1:33:12 seconds. In the same year, I won gold at the Services Meet with the time 1:27:12 seconds. In 2011, I started my journey with my current coach Gurdev Singh.

Has your army training benefited your athletic abilities?

After joining the army, I was posted in Ooty where I trained most of the time. The climate in Ooty was extremely effective for conditional workouts. The army facilities were top class. It was a very crucial period in my sporting life.

How were you introduced to this sport?

My entry to sports was accidental. I come from a small village in Kerala. Football is the most popular sport there. I always liked sports. There was one walker in my village named Ribas. He was considered the best walker in Kerala. I used to serve refreshments to Ribas and sometimes note his training timings.  One day, some of my friends suggested I try race walking when I accompany Ribas. I tried it for a few days and started liking it. That was the turning point in my life. After that, I participated in my school meet and defeated the state champion. In 2007, I was called for trails in SAI Calicut and was selected. That marked the beginning of my professional sports life.

Walk us through your training regimen.

My training starts at 5am every day:

Morning training:

  • 1km run warm up
  • 5km walk warm up
  • Full body stretching and then my training work out starts

Evening training:

  • 1km run warm up
  • 1km walk warm up
  • Walking training
  • Ends with stretching

How many hours a day do you have to practice?

Morning – 3 hours

Evening – 2.30 hours

What are the costs associated with your training?

It’s difficult to estimate, but I require a minimum of two pairs of special walking shoes every month. Each shoe costs about Rs 10,000-15,000. Additionally, I need nutritional and medical supplements every month coupled with physiotherapists and a masseur’s fee.

How would you compare the standard of training in India and that which is available abroad?

The standard of training abroad is far better than India. In terms of infrastructure, support staff etc., they are way ahead.

What has been your biggest achievement yet?

Finishing 10th place in London Olympics in 2012 with the time of 1:20:21 seconds, which is a national record.

How is crowdfunding important to you and other rising athletes?

Crowdfunding is very helpful for those athletes who want to continue in their respective sports but can’t do so because of financial problems. It’s the main reason why young athletes drop out from sports. Through crowdfunding, people come to know about the sport and the athlete, who are working tirelessly to bring laurels to the country. I am sure every proud Indian wants to see India as a top sporting nation.

Explain Olympic Gold Quest’s role in your life and career.

I signed with Olympic Gold Quest (OGQ) after the London 2012 Olympics. It was a very good step for me in my sporting career. I am thankful to OGQ for their full support. The cost of accessories in my sport is very high and for someone like me who comes from a middle class family, it is very difficult to afford it all. But with the support of OGQ I am getting world class shoes, sports equipment and physio assistance. And it is not just the financial support but also the mental support which the OGQ team gives me, which is really beneficial. They are available for me 24×7.

What systems, structures and establishments do we need in India to give Indian athletes a better chance at winning at the Olympics?

Lots of things have to be done. For example:

  • Need to provide world class infrastructure
  • Athletes should be given quality food supplements
  • More international exposure for training and competition
  • Each athlete should have a personal physio and masseur
  • Proper financial assistance as per the need of the athlete

I feel there is immense talent in India. If given proper attention, India can be one of the top sporting countries in the world.


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