Rohith Maradappa – An Indian rower hoping to make a change in India’s sports circuit

Indian rower Rohith Maradappa may be preparing himself for the upcoming Jakarta Asian Games, but he surely has a lot of plans shortly.

Following his participation, he will head towards South America where he is the Young Change Maker (YCM) for the Youth Olympic Games which will be held in Buenos Aires, Argentina. In spite of these commitments, he is still hopeful of launching a sports-based project in Tamil Nadu to inspire people from poor backgrounds to achieve more in the field of sports and other avenues of life.

A total of 83 sportspersons were shortlisted from around the globe by the International Olympic Committee who would serve as YCM (young change makers) for the 2018 Youth Olympic Games.

The 23-year old lives with the ambition of making a difference in the Indian sports circuit and bring about equality and practice of ‘fair play’ at all levels.

He will also try to remove the differences created by the language barriers by making the athletes interact with people from other countries. As a Young Change Maker (YCM), Rohith will aim to spread Olympic values among the youth.

The cause

“This is why I applied to become a YCM and why I want to try to make a difference for the many economically disadvantaged children in my country. The Olympics treat every nation as equal. The playing field is a level one, and it is that concept of fairness and equality that I aim to bring to my project back home,” said the budding rower.

Rohith has his work cut out for the Youth Olympic Games (YOG); his main aim will be to ensure that the athletes make the most out of the mega event and acquire as much experience as possible. Conducting workshops with the contingent is one of the ways he wants to achieve his desired goals.

Regarding the matter, Rohith said, “At the YOG I will organise events and workshops designed to help the athletes connect meaningfully with at least two or three people from other nations. To achieve this, I will need to collaborate with other YCMs to bring people together.”

While talking to The Bridge, Rohith revealed how the workshops would help the Youth Olympians in the future. “A lot of star athletes and coaches will be present at the Youth Olympic Games and talking to them would be beneficial for the Indian contingent. We have our swimming team and gymnastics team, arranging a lunch session with top swimmers and gymnasts with them will help them connect,” added Rohith.

The second innings

Speaking about his experience, he admitted that he was shocked to see the living conditions of the youngsters living in a slum who were aged similar to him.

Rohith recalled a story where an 18-year old boy left school because of financial constraints and an alcoholic father. In spite of several efforts made by Rohith and his friends he never returned to school being from a lower caste and poor background.

“Young people from economically deprived places are at such a big disadvantage and need mentors and help to realise their potential. Why should it be that they cannot aspire when none of their situations is their fault?” said an emotional Rohith Maradappa.

“As a part of the project, we are going to work in two Government schools in Tamil Nadu and mentor the kids through various sports based events and connect them through a mentor network. The group of mentors will consist of college graduates around the city who can relate well with young kids and mentor them.”

Later this year, Rohith will be submitting a formal application to be a part of IOC’s Young Change Maker+ (YCM+) Programme. His inspiration for the project came from his experiences as a leader when he was a college student and was part of an outreach group which left a mark on him.

What’s ahead

With just a few weeks left for the 2018 Jakarta Asian Games to get underway, Rohith’s preparation is in full swing and also feels that the Indian rowing team can put a great show at the mega event.

Regarding the matter, he said, “The preparations are touch wood so far so good; we have been working very hard. The camps have started since January. What can we say; we have done our hard work and hoped to do our best.”

The Indian team consists of veterans like Jegan Sekar, Tejas Shinde and Akshat, apart from Rohith Maradappa. The Asian Games will begin on August 18 and conclude on September 2.

Switching jobs has not been easy for Rohith, first serving the nation in Rowing and then acting as a motivator for upcoming talents. But he feels his work not a tough as he loves to do it. “Well, balancing all of it is not so easy. If I have to give 20 hours to YCM, sometimes I manage to devote only 10-15 hours. Working as a YCM is more of a passion since it is something I like doing, it is not so hard. Engaging with the athletes, it keeps me alive; it’s exciting.”


Also read: Indian Rowing: Then and Now