03 Feb 2017

Silver medallist in the Junior Girls’ Singles event in both Qatar and Tunisia in 2016; Diya Pirag Chitale is one of India’s brightest prospects.

Only 13 years old, she is no stranger to international competition, having been competing now for some two years. She first came to note in February 2015 when she competes in the ITTF World Junior Circuit tournament in Bahrain. Impressively she reached the final of the Cadet Girls’ Singles event, losing to Romania’s far more experienced Andreea Dragoman.

by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor

Family support has been vital; recently Olalekan Okusan, the Press Officer for the African Table Tennis Federation spoke to Parag Chitale, Diya’s father.

Follow your passion and you will always do well. We can see Diya enjoying her journey as a table tennis player and that gives us the biggest happiness. Pursuing sports always leads to a lot of learning in terms of life skills and as a family we are very happy that Diya is learning this at such a young age. This is going to be of immense value for Diya in her journey of life.

The pressure that Diya handles at a tender age of 13, I don’t think I handled this kind of pressure even at double this age. When I see her go through all this because of her passion and her dream of making the Country proud, I feel the least I can do is give her all the support in making her dreams come true. Diya has made a lot of sacrifice in life by choosing to follow a career which does not give her the chance to enjoy her life as a teenager. And if she can do this at this age we, as parents, want to do everything possible for her. I have already reached a stage in life where I am known as Diya’s father rather than she being known as my daughter – a very proud moment in my life.

  When I moved out of a Banking career into Education, a lot of people thought I had made a mistake. However, my passion in Education helped me succeed in my life. Thus it is not about being in the traditionally accepted career but it is about chasing your passion. The most difficult thing in life is identifying your true passion and chasing it. Diya is indeed lucky to have identified her passion at such a young age and that is going to ensure true happiness. If Diya can make her mark in a sport like Table Tennis which traditionally is not considered a priority in India, so be it. Hopefully she will inspire many more to go out and choose a path which is not chosen very often.

 It is a difficult period when Diya and my wife, Reshmaare away from home for long periods. However, it is a conscious decision to follow this routine and hence we manage. Fortunately, communication technology ensures that we still get to talk on a daily basis and multiple times every day. The difficult part is when they miss many family functions. It is more difficult for Diya to be away while the rest of the family still gets together. In this battle of emotions with practical reality, we make do looking at her dream.

 We are clear that Diya and all of us will give it our best to do well in the sport. With the support system that we have, we are sure that we will be able to manage all possible requirements. The important part is to keep Diya’s passion alive and not lead to a burn out. If we are able to manage that well, we would have done our job and Diya will definitely do well in the sport.

 The biggest challenge for us as parents is not put performance pressure on Diya. We are constantly working on this aspect to ensure that Diya enjoys her journey towards chasing her passion.

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