Gaining mental strength, the sporting way | More sports News – Times of India


BENGALURU: Mental health. From sportsperson, cinema stars to the common man, the subject has been the talking point, especially during the pandemic-induced lockdown which brought life around the world to a standstill.
It was during this time, Aryan Joshi got thinking about the subject and the importance of talking about it.
The student of Mallya Aditi International School and a Karnataka age-group cricketer, made good use of the lockdown to deal with the subject. The 18-year-old, son of former India cricketer and current chief selector of the Indian cricket team Sunil Joshi, put together a community initiative — Mental Strength Matters.
With spreading awareness about mental health being one of the primary agendas, the youngster with assistance from his father, got in touch with achievers from various sports. The result, an array of sporting heroes, from P Gopichand to Kapil Dev and Pankaj Advani got talking about mental fitness, overcoming obstacles and conquering the demons within. The videos, which have since been posted on Facebook and Instagram, give an insight into the minds of men and women who have fought battles on and off the field.
Speaking to TOI on the initiative, the well-spoken Aryan said, “Being a cricketer myself and playing through the ranks, I have noticed that mental strength is one aspect that is overlooked in the budding stages of one’s career. Thus, through this initiative, I’m trying to spread awareness about Mental Strength. ‘Mental Strength Matters’ focuses on the importance of mental strength for youth in all kinds of sports.”
On how he zeroed in on the athletes he wanted to feature, Aryan explained, “I took it upon myself to interview as many athletes as I could; so that we can reach out to as many people as possible. Our initiative has showcased athletes from various sports, like cricket, football, kabaddi, hockey, golf, badminton and athletics. I hope that our audience can relate to at least one of the athletes we have showcased and find what mental strength means to them.”
The overwhelming support he received from the sporting fraternity is amongst the biggest takeaways for Aryan.
“Everyone I’ve reached out to has been really supportive, and I’m nothing but grateful for all the positivity towards the initiative. I’ve learnt so much from this opportunity, especially from my interviews; be it from the wisdom of Kapil Dev and Pullela Gopichand or the bravado of Yuvraj Singh and Annu Rani. It has been an amazing journey thus far and I hope we can keep the effort going for a long time to come,” he explained.
Aryan is clear that the initiative does not stop with the videos and he is keen to take it forward. “I am learning and trying to advocate new ways of building mental strength. I feel that this is a subject that has not been touched upon with the due importance that it requires. Hopefully, soon enough, we can see the emergence of mental strength as a chapter which may even feature as a part of the syllabus for our education system in the upcoming years.”
Aryan’s learnings from various athletes:
VVS Laxman (Cricket): Mr Laxman’s story of making the critical decision to follow his love for cricket is a testament to his self-belief and mental strength. I think his advice during the lockdown was really helpful to a wide range of people, as maintaining a positive mindset and focusing on the end goal is key during times of crisis.
Mayank Agarwal (Cricket): The main takeaway from Mr Agarwal’s interview was that clarity and mindfulness seem to play a vital role in being mentally strong. Mr Agarwal suggested that one can improve their mental strength over time with techniques such as meditation and goal setting. These techniques can aid not only in sports but any aspect of life.
Mithali Raj (Cricket): Much like myself and other athletes, Mithali faced an injury but the thing that stood out was that she sacrificed herself for the team. That in itself is the epitome of mental strength.
Sujith Somasundar (Cricket): My interactions with Mr Somasundar has taught me that It’s important for an athlete to not succumb to pressure and expectations when faced with a challenge, thus one has to be mindful of the situation and set small goals to overcome the challenge one step at a time.
Jeev Milkha Singh (Golf): As I interviewed him, in addition to the book he recommended — the Power of the Subconscious Mind — he also advocated giving 10 minutes of our day both in the morning or evening towards mental strength and taking a break to think with a peaceful mind.
Sakshi Malik (Wrestling): Sakshi’s story goes to show us that one’s circumstances need not define the scope of their ability. If you dream big and have the perseverance to back it up, no dream is unattainable. Her drive to succeed is a combination of self-confidence and unrelenting determination. Her ability to overcome a major injury before the tournament was truly inspiring.
Priyam Garg (Cricket): From him, I’ve learned that we can all inculcate some techniques to build our mental strength, namely yoga, meditation and visualization. Coming from a difficult childhood, it was his sheer drive and motivation to perform that brought him from just a young boy to India’s U-19 World Cup captain.
Zaheer Khan (Cricket): I think the most important thing I took away from my interaction with Mr Khan was that mental strength is important even when you’re winning or losing, it’s a catalyst for self-improvement and helps people define themselves through adversity or adoration.
Yuvraj Singh (Cricket): If there was one athlete who required mental strength and utilised it to its maximum, it was Yuvraj Singh. Fighting through cancer, Man of the series in India’s 2011 World Cup triumph, He is mental strength personified.
Sardara Singh (Hockey): From a captain to a Padma Shri awardee the story Sardara Singh is a story of perseverance in the face of adversity. The one thing we can take away from this story is that one should never settle and should always strive to become better.
Ajay Thakur (Kabaddi): The resounding message from Mr Thakur is that our perception of adversity must always go through a lens of positivity and self-reflection, rather than looking at adversity as an unassailable obstacle; we must perceive it to be a means of progression.
Prithvi Shaw (Cricket): Prithvi’s story goes to show us that abstinence is as much a facet of mental strength as action when faced with a challenge where patience and optimism are the best paths forward.
Annu Rani (Athletics): If there is one thing I have to take away from my interaction with Ms Annu Rani it is that it doesn’t matter who you are or where you’re from, the only thing that matters is that you have learned from the adversity you have faced and believe in your ability when confronted with a challenge.
Niranjan Mukundan (Para-athletics): Niranjan’s story is a steadfast reminder that we can achieve anything we set our mind to, despite the hand life has dealt us. The only things we need are unrelenting determination and persevering passion towards our goals.

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