Top Ad
I DIG Radio
Listen live to the best music from around the world!
I DIG Style
Learn about the latest fashion styles and more...

Spirit of World Squash Day shines in India as Ritwik Bhattacharya teaches the game to tribal children

Written by 
Published in Squash
Wednesday, 09 October 2019 05:26

Ritwik (far left) invites the kids to watch the CCI tournament in Mumbai

‘It’s a privilege to be doing what I’m doing’ says the man changing the face of squash in India
By ALAN THATCHER – Squash Mad Editor

Former Indian number one Ritwik Bhattacharya, a regular and talented competitor on the PSA World Tour for many years and now a successful coach and promoter, is staging one of the most significant projects on World Squash Day.

He is teaching the game to a large group of tribal children who had no idea what the game of squash was two years ago.

Bhattacharya, who reached a career high ranking of 38 in 2006, has established his own START Academy which will be active at three venues near Mumbai on Saturday. START stands for ‘Squash Temple And Relentless Training’.

Sachika Balvani, a former Trinity College student who is a member of Ritwik’s team, said: “We are looking forward to doing something here for World Squash Day. Ritwik has established a very unique academy, and I personally have never seen or experienced anything like it.

“We are based a couple hours outside of Mumbai, in the countryside, and work with players that come from across India and with all sorts of backgrounds.

“Ritwik also coaches kids of all ages who live in the tribal village of Kalote that neighbours the academy. The academy started just around two years ago, and already these kids (who had never even heard of squash before then) are playing tournaments and doing well all over India.

“He also works with boys from the Indian National Defence Academy (Pune) and the Rashtriya Indian Military College (Dehradun).

“Therefore, we can definitely have events in these three places, the START Academy, and the squash centres at both military bases.”

Ritwik added: “There is a huge push to revive squash in the Indian Armed Forces, who used to be the backbone of the Indian team two decades back.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

“We are teaching squash to 40 tribal kids who didn’t know what the game was even two years ago till my academy was ready. The tribal village is situated in the state of Maharashtra in the foothills of the Western Ghats. The tribe is the Nirguada tribe which means the ‘butterflies of the woods’.

“We will be creating a video around this and want to include this as part of World Squash Day.

“The video will only be ready by the first week in November as we will include footage from the Junior Nationals from 15-22nd October. Some of the kids will be flying for the first time.

“Do check out my Instagram page @rbstart for more information.

“Sachika is well in control of organising the three venues for World Squash Day. We are planning to cut a cake in front of the squash court with all our kids (over 50) in attendance if not more.”

In a poignant moment he added: “Establishing the project was a huge effort at an immense personal cost getting the Start Academy ready. I would like to thank my parents – my father who passed away without seeing the completed academy – and my mother who is now moving to Kalote Mokashi to help teach the kids proper English.

“To my friends Munish Makhija, Sridhar Gorthi, Pooja Bhatt without whose support this project would never have got completed and last but not the least my wife Pia, who has stood by me through thick and thin, handling everything at home while I’m away at the academy working with the kids.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

“It’s really a privilege to be doing what I’m doing. We have a strong faculty with Jagdeep Singh, India’s heavyweight pro boxing champion, who also is training the kids. And the Indian Armed Forces have even sent professionals to help with their fitness and strength training.

“Stephane Galifi, a squash professional who was born in France but represents Italy, has also popped into the academy and played with the kids on his frequent visits to India.”

As well as coaching, Ritwik has firmly established himself as a leading tournament promoter with his JSW Indian Squash Circuit showcasing the game at some superb venues, including the glass court being set up inside the Cricket Club of India stadium in Mumbai for the successful CCI Tournament.

The 2019 final back in April was an all-Egyptian contest in which Tarek Momen beat Fares Dessouky.

Ritwik invited a group of tribal children to watch the final and posted an impassioned message on Facebook: “All the tribal/ adivasi kids from a small village called Kalote on the outskirts of Mumbai, came to the CCI final to watch the on going Indian Squash Circuit …. our future lies in the hands of these kids.

“They have will, they are determined , they are born champions and trust me, when you have nothing to lose , you are all in. They came, they watched, and they seized every moment!”

Ritwik, 39, is also a big cricket fan and was recently pictured on court coaching India’s legendary batsman Sachin Tendulkar.

Please check out this hugely inspirational video which tracks the progress of one of Ritwik’s pupils, a girl called Bijali. We may be hearing much more of her in the future.

Posted on October 9, 2019
Read 51 times

Leave a comment


Solskjaer blames ball for United draw at Brugge

Solskjaer blames ball for United draw at Brugge

BRUGES, Belgium -- Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer said the ball was partly to blame...

Man United rebuild far from completion

Man United rebuild far from completion

BRUGES, Belgium -- It's been four and a half years since Manchester United were last in Bruges, and...

7/10 Lacazette goes from Arsenal villain to hero

7/10 Lacazette goes from Arsenal villain to hero

Arsenal will be confident of advancing to the Europa League's last 16 after beating Olympiakos 1-0 i...


Wolves' Layman back at practice; Towns still out

Wolves' Layman back at practice; Towns still out

MINNEAPOLIS -- Minnesota Timberwolves forward Jake Layman was finally cleared Thursday to return to...

Sources: Kyrie considering shoulder surgery

Sources: Kyrie considering shoulder surgery

Brooklyn Nets star Kyrie Irving is considering treatment options on his right shoulder impingement,...


Yankees shut down Severino; IL stint 'possible'

Yankees shut down Severino; IL stint 'possible'

TAMPA, Fla. -- The New York Yankees seem to have picked up where they left off last season on the in...

Big Papi: Fiers looks like 'snitch' for outing Astros

Big Papi: Fiers looks like 'snitch' for outing Astros

FORT MYERS, Fla. - Red Sox legend David Ortiz expressed his displeasure with Oakland A's pitcher Mik...

Sports Leagues

  • FIFA

    Fédération Internationale de Football Association
  • NBA

    National Basketball Association
  • ATP

    Association of Tennis Professionals
  • MLB

    Major League Baseball
  • ITTF

    International Table Tennis Federation

Sponsored Links

I DIG® Newspapers
I Dig® Newspapers, stay up to date with the latest news from around the world.
I DIG® Casino
I Dig® Casino, explore our online casino games, play a wide range of free slots and casino games at our online casino today.
I DIG® Radio
I Dig® Radio HD is the only place in the internet where you can find free, super high bit rate internet radio stations from around the world. On I Dig® Radio HD you can find free radio stations streaming at 256kbps.

About Us

I Dig® is a leading global brand that makes it more enjoyable to surf the internet, conduct transactions and access, share, and create information.  Today I Dig® attracts millions of users every month.


Phone: (800) 737. 6040
Fax: (800) 825 5558
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.