Hi, I am Jaydn D’Souza, 11 years old from St. Stanislaus High School. Most boys start football when they learn to walk in Bandra, but not me. I took pride in keeping my school shirt white and receiving accolades from my teachers for the same. What they did not know was my little secret. I did not play during recesses. In fact, I did not play at all. My appreciation for sports was rather slow. It was only at age 7 that I wanted to kick a ball, which gradually drew me to hockey—a heavily rule-loaded game.

Around 9 years old, I had to choose a new sport along with hockey. To my good luck, my school introduced mallakhamb in the list of May holiday activities. I went to have a look, to known what was it about. What I saw pleased my senses, as it looked like they were all having fun and making a lot of masti. I was attracted to the sport immediately and from then on there was no looking back.

I went from strength to strength. I realised these exercises helped me concentrate while studying and focus during my hockey sessions. Most of all it has made me fearless.

Mallakhamb has three levels of difficulty, which has their own Elements. Each level has a designated amount of points. Every Element is a hurdle to cross. Practice makes one flexible and squashes any fear within me. However, like any other sport you can hurt yourself if you are not disciplined.

The attire is bare minimum—a supporter and tights/cycling shorts. Diet is of utmost importance. Once or twice a week, I eat boiled vegetables and boiled chicken that is not overcooked. This helps me build Muscle, Strength and Endurance. God willing, I will continue this form of exercise until I can.

I thank my coach, Yatin Nachare, who saw my potential and enrolled me in competitions to enable me to overcome my fears.

Planning a sequential strategy ‘set’ is a requirement to winning a competition. A minimum of nine elements are performed in 90 secs. On December 17, 2017, I won the silver medal at the Bhausaheb Ranade Navodit Mallakhamb Spardha U/14 category, scoring 7 out of 10 points.

My family loves to drop this line on me every now and then, “We do not have to worry about your shirt getting soiled anymore”.