The Bridge Impact: Kuki refugee invited to PV Sindhu's academy
Badminton prodigy Kimkim Khongsai had to flee Manipur last month due to ethnic riots. After reading her news, the Suchitra Badminton Academy in Hyderabad made a life-changing phone call.
In a heartwarming turn of events, a Kuki refugee and junior badminton champion who had to flee Manipur has been called up to the prestigious Suchitra Badminton Academy in Hyderabad.
This extraordinary tale of perseverance and talent stands out among the horrors of ethnic violence that the northeastern state has seen in the last three months.
Kimkim Khongsai, a 12-year-old who was dubbed the 'Saina Nehwal of Kangpokpi' last year after she made a clean sweep of all the gold medals at the 2022 Manipur Hill Districts Badminton Championships, is now moving to the city of the actual Saina Nehwal's residence. She will be training at the same academy where PV Sindhu currently trains.
"A phone call from the Suchitra Badminton Academy changed our lives in one moment. We were completely at a loss on how to progress Kimkim's badminton career after fleeing Manipur. They said they read the media report on Kimkim and wanted to extend an invitation for the upcoming admission term. They have hostels there too," a relieved Hoichong Khongsai, Kimkim's mother, told The Bridge.
Fleeing violence, the Khongsai family embarked on a treacherous journey in May this year, leaving behind everything they knew. Left stateless, one of the questions the family faced was even if Kimkim managed to play badminton, which state would she represent?
"She was a champion in Manipur. But to continue defending her titles, she needed to return there. We were thinking about shifting to Delhi for her career's sake. To be inducted into the Suchitra Badminton Academy now gives us a new direction," Kimkim's mother added.
Located in Hyderabad, the Suchitra Badminton Academy has earned a reputation for producing world-class badminton players, nurturing and refining their abilities to compete on the global stage.
“This is the first of its kind facility in India. The coaching and fitness staff is world class. That this international standard facility came up without any government assistance is really impressive,” reads an endorsement by Sindhu of the academy. The Olympic medallist is currently training there with an eye on the Paris Olympics next year.
Aakarshi Kashyap, the second highest ranked Indian in women's singles, also trains at the same academy.
Now having access to state-of-the-art facilities, expert coaching, and a competitive training environment, Kimkim Khongsai can now be expected to go very far.