Sushila Chanu, father of Manipur born Shyam Sundar, is a driver by profession. He himself did not get a chance to go to school, but he paid special attention to the education of both his daughters and sons. From school days, Chanu started taking interest in sports. Boxing champion Mary Kom was his role model. Mary Kom is also from Manipur. He was often discussed in school. This is the year of 1999. National Games were held in Manipur. Chanu was just seven years old then. Came to watch football match with Papa. The stadium was packed. Seeing the winning players waving the tricolor flag in the field, he said to Papa, I will also grow up and win a lot of medals. Papa smiled. Till then it was not decided which sport she would choose, boxing, hockey or football. There was no player in the family, but they understood the importance of the game. So the mother-father never stopped Sushila Chanu from participating in sports competitions.
At that time, Chanu was 11 years old. She wanted to play, but could not decide which sport to choose. Then one day the uncle of the neighborhood gave advice just like this, do that you play hockey. Just Chanu started playing hockey. Nobody had any connection with sports at home. So his entire training or fitness was on school. In 2003, training began at the Manipur Hockey Academy. Chanu worked hard for two years. She was playing well in the state, but was not getting a place in the national tournament. Trial given many times, but not selected. She became very disappointed. One day he told the housemates, I am not a good player. I will not play now I will do some other work. But the coaches and family did not let their spirits break. The effort continued.
He was finally selected to the Sub Junior National Team in 2005 in Bengaluru. With this, his lost confidence also returned. After this, there was selection in Hockey Academy of Gwalior. There he took training for four years. In 2008, he got a chance to play for Team India for the first time in the Under-21 Women’s Hockey Asia Cup in Malaysia. Now the journey of Chanu’s progress had begun. Under his leadership, the Indian Junior Hockey Team won the Bronze medal in the Junior World Cup in the year 2013. Meanwhile, he got a job in the railway with the sports quota. She started working as a ticket collector at Masjid station in Mumbai. Chanu had to stay away from home due to his busy job and sports. Had to go home only once or twice a year. Initially, the greenery of Manipur in Mumbai and the lack of beautiful natural views there was very much missed, but gradually Mumbai’s cool style started coming.
Chanu says- In Manipur, it is difficult for girls to leave the house alone at night, but here in Mumbai there is nothing like that. Here we have the freedom to get out till late evening. I like this thing very much. However, he did not particularly like the job of ticket collector. Chanu says- When I caught a passenger without a ticket, he would cry or apologize. I found it very bad to punish or punish such people. Many a time it felt like leaving this job, but a job was necessary to run life. So kept working.
Those working with sports quota have to do half-time duty in the railways. Chanu would reach office at eight o’clock in the morning and go straight to practice after working till one o’clock in the afternoon. However, this journey has not been easy. There was not a single hockey ground near the station. He did not even get any trainer from the team. Health and diet also had to be taken care of by ourselves. Chanu used to cook for herself. She used to exercise in the railway gym to keep herself fit.
However, when sports tournaments are not running, she goes on duty every day. During the tournament, take leave and get involved in the game. Chanu says- The people of the office support me a lot. When I do it there, they say don’t work, you like playing. Go, win gold for us. Chanu does not want people on the street to ask for autographs. She wants to live like a common girl, not like a celebrity. During her job in Mumbai, she often goes to a nearby theater to see a picture or go shopping in the mall. Chanu says- I like to move around like normal girls. Now people in Manipur are starting to recognize, but most do not know that I am a hockey player. Therefore, I roam around there with fun. His biggest dream came true this year. The women’s hockey team participated in the Rio Olympics under her leadership. The team could not win the medal, but Chanu has not given up hope.