18-year-old Jafreen, was even selected to captain the Indian team in a world championship, but had to pull out

This hearing-impaired national tennis champion is facing a fund crunch and needs helpImage by arrangement
news Tuesday, September 29, 2015 - 14:51

Zakeer Ahmed is a worried man. His daughter Shaik Jafreen, a national hearing-impaired tennis champion, has made it to the Asia Pacific Championship in Taiwan, but he fears a repeat of the world championship, when her team left for the tournament without its captain.

The Asia Pacific Championship is being held from October 3 to 11, and Zakeer is not taking any chances. "We managed to put everything together and also bought her tickets to Taiwan. We did not want a repeat of the world championship," Zakeer tells The News Minute.

Two months ago, 18-year-old Jafreen, was selected to captain the team representing India in the world championship for the hearing-impaired, but had to pull out as the family could not put together the money for it. 

"The whole team except her went, and because Jafreen didn't make it, the organizing committee charged her another $100 as penalty and her world ranking fell from 17 to 22 now," adds Zakeer, an advocate by profession.

Even though she qualified, Jafreen also missed the 2012 London Paralympics because of a lack of funds. 

The following year Jafreen and her family shifted from Kurnool to the state's capital of Hyderabad, with the hope of making it big in tennis. 

She has since been training at the Sania Mirza Tennis Academy on the outskirts of Hyderabad, where her coaching is being financially taken care off by the Mirzas.

"Rarely, does one come across someone like Jafreen who despite being hearing impaired plays tennis with such passion," Sania Mirza had said of her.

The family is now looking for some form of sponsorship, to support Jafreen, who they feel, is at a very important point in her career.

While they have bought the tickets, the family is still facing a lot of financial trouble as this was the last of their resources. "All her tournaments I funded from my own pocket but I'm afraid this might be the last one, and Jafreen may have to quit on the sport if I don't get help soon," Zakeer says

"I had approached the government when Kiran Kumar Reddy was chief minister. I wrote to him, explaining that I could arrange a part of Jafreen's funds, but not all of it. He then wrote to the district collector, who in turn wrote to the Sports Authority of Andhra Pradesh (SAAP) to help us out," says Zakeer.

However, the SAAP said that it has "no provision to extend financial assistance to deaf and dumb sportspersons.”

"After running around many offices, I finally approached the Prinicpal secretary, who then directed the state's sports minister to help us. However, my file was soon lost in bureaucratic limbo," he adds. 

With their options and funds quickly dwindling, the family is looking for any kind of help or sponsorship they can get.

"Our future aim for now is to represent India in the 2017 deaf Olympics that will take place in Turkey," Zakeer says.

 

Zakeer Ahmed can be contacted at +919652826758

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