As Abhimanyu Shete stood on the court, watching Aadiraj Shetty celebrate after he lost the under-10 final in the Mumbai Schools Sports Association badminton, a sense of disappointment washed over him. He had reached the final with a clean slate, not losing a single game, yet the final goal was just out of reach. However, when the applause and cheers of the crowd reached his ears, he realised that he had something equally valuable – the support and admiration of his community, and especially his family.
With a gracious smile, Abhimanyu walked over to Aadiraj, shook his hand and congratulated him. His sportsmanship and maturity impressed everyone in attendance, earning him the respect of not only his peers but also the adults. But inside, he was heartbroken.
“He played better and that is why he is on the podium,” said Abhimanyu, who wants to come back next year and finish on the podium.
The Mumbai Schools Sports Association is an annual event eagerly anticipated by the school kids in the city.
In the first game, Aadiraj with his backcourt mastery, had the upper hand and though the third standard student from Parle Tilak Vidayala CBSE from Vile Parle fought back, he could not match his opponent as he took the first game 21-10.
And in the second game, Abhimanyu was no match for his opponent, as Adiraj cruised to a 21-5 win to lay his hands on the trophy.
“I lost because I thought he was better, that feeling should not have crept into my mind. That was the main reason for me to end up runners-up,” said Abhimanyu, as he unlaced his shoes and changed his T-shirt.
But, he did not go out of the hall, as he sat watching the others play, trying to learn more about the game.
Abhimanyu took up the sport last year and has over nine trophies in his showcase back home. But this MSSA has been eluding him.
“He has won many trophies, and he will come back next year and win this championship, which he wants,” said his father Ameya Shete, an engineer by profession.
Abhimanyu knows that setbacks are just stepping stones on the path to success, and that with hard work and determination, any dream is within reach.