Interview with K. Arumugam, the man who quit his high-paying job to teach hockey to underprivileged kids
People who are dreamers are the ones who can change the world. They have the power of seeing something that's not right, and then they try to fix it. K. Arumugam is one such dreamer (but he is not the only one).
Born in Delhi, he studied at IIT and had a perfectly sorted life. But a few years back he decided to take voluntary retirement from his high-paying job to chase his dream of providing hockey training to underprivileged school kids.
Quitting your job to follow your dreams is easier said than done
Think about it. Changing the way you live and sacrificing your means of livelihood, just to see the Indian national colours fly high, is probably the hardest thing to do. But it takes the biggest challenges to bring the best out of us.
Oh, wait. What can be bigger than quitting everything to start afresh?
One Thousand Hockey Legs (OTHL)
Arumugam has always been an avid hockey fan and has even written several articles about the sport. In 2008, India failed to make it to the Beijing Olympics for the first time since their debut in 1928.
That's when, instead of finding faults with the team, he decided to start his own NGO called Hockey Citizens Group. He also launched his own program One Thousand Hockey Legs to provide children with hockey training at their schools.
Training 4,000 kids from 80 schools
Today, with the help of his team, Arumugam reaches out to 4,000 children in five cities of India including Puducherry, Chennai, Kolkata, Kanpur and Delhi. Thanks to his efforts, seven children have gone on to represent Delhi in the Nationals.
Also, five of them have been selected by the Sports Authority of India. The authorities were so impressed with their play that they have been looking after their education and food now.
While speaking to Sportskeeda, Arumugam told us about his past experiences and future goals
“Delhi has more than 4000 schools. But not even 10 schools had hockey fields. That's when I decided to give each underprivileged child an opportunity to play the sport and learn various things about it.
“The national capital alone trains 1,400 children from 24 schools now.”
Arumugam often gets coaches from various places across India to teach the children
He aims to find a team to participate in the state and national level tournaments. His efforts bore fruit as his team finished runners-up at the Sub-Junior and Junior Inter-Zone Hockey Tournament organized by the Delhi State Education Department last year.
Whatever you do, do it with passion
It's not about wanting something, it's about how badly you want something. OTHL is a way to give back to the sport that has time and again made the country proud. The initiative provides a monthly scholarship for students who top their class in academics as well.
In 2014, OTHL won the Hockey President's Outstanding Achievement Award.
Where does Arumugam see hockey 10 years down the line?
“Quality players come from quantity. I am focussing on quantity now. Soon, I will be increasing my quantity into quality. I believe we will have players soon who can win us the 2030 Olympics.”
“The country is ours. We are the country.”
“The country is ours. We are the country. We have to think the other way round. Everyone should look beyond themselves and contribute towards the development of India. Only then, we can achieve a healthy sporting society,” Arumugam finished.
Give your dream a chance. You never know when it will take flight.