Thiruvananthapuram: Legend says that the great exponents of Taekwondo were men who travelled to the far ends of the world to hone their skills. Young Taekwondo practitioners in the city are also travelling - though on a different, frustrating mission. Thrown out from as many as three locations, they are on a search for a place to train.
Like badminton players, Taekwondo players too used to hold their training classes at Jimmy George Indoor Stadium for years. But the stadium was closed down two years ago for renovation. This forced the students to seek another place for practicing - a fruitless endeavour that still continues.
According to B Aji, secretary of Taekwondo Association of Kerala, Taekwondo training has virtually come to a halt in the city owing to lack of training space. "We had been practicing in the Jimmy George Stadium for almost ten years. With a vast indoor arena available, we could lay our mats and conduct classes in full swing.
After we vacated the stadium, we have no space to train the students and a number of students have already left the sport,'' he said.
At the time when the stadium was closed, there were around 20 students in the class. When the Taekwondo Association contacted the Directorate of Sports and Youth Affairs, they were granted permission for conducting classes at the Central Stadium. But the students decided to opt out, as the Stadium was crowded with players from various sports.
Vishnu Das, a national player and a state medal winner, said that he had to avoid training owing to lack of space. ''It was difficult to grab a comfortable space in the Central Stadium because of the crowd. Then we decided to discard training using safety mats and tried the University Stadium. But the guards turned away Mukesh, another national player, and me from training there. The Kerala University Games are in the offing, but we don't have an idea where to train for it,'' he said.
Mukesh and Vishnu, in a bid to carry on their regimen, went to the Nishagandhi Auditorium with their gear and started training. When they started practicing kicks on a rexine pad, the security personnel arrived and threw them out.
''They told us that kicking the pad created noise that would disturb the public who throng the place for relaxation. We can't comprehend this attitude. We are players of an event which is included in the National Games and the Olympics. Then why this indifference towards us?'' asks Mukesh.