This Taekwondo Player From Manipur Has Been Selling Fruit Salads To Gather Funds

"I wanted to set an example that we shouldn’t be dependent on others for our jobs"

While the country has been glued to the cash-rich Indian Premier League (IPL), many athletes from sports other than cricket are left sidelined. Diana Ningombam, an international taekwondo player from Manipur, has been selling fruit salads on the streets of Imphal to raise funds for her upcoming tournaments.

Ningombam started learning Taekwondo in 2006 and has reportedly won 15 medals at the national level as well as in international events, including a silver in Kukkiwon, South Korea in 2018. She wakes up daily at 3 AM to make preparations and sells fruit salads from 4 AM to 7 AM. She then goes on to practice in the evening at Langjing Achouba Makha Leikai, a local sports complex, where she has been preparing for an upcoming tournament which will be held in Hong Kong.

She says she did not want to burden her parents for the expenditure on her diet and training equipment. While her father works as a printing machine mechanic and has not been keeping healthy, her mother works at a bazaar to earn extra income. Ningombam says she wants to encourage the youth towards self-employment and not be dependant on their parents. She told The Bridge,

“I wanted to set an example that we shouldn’t be dependent on others for our jobs. All of us can do the work and earn the money whenever we need. Though I’m a player, I think I too can do the same. That’s the reason why I started to sell fruit salads.”

A former member of All Manipur Taekwondo Association, Ningombam told IFP how difficult it is for entrants, who come from poor families, to gather funds to be able to take part in international tournaments.

“When I first stepped into sports, we required money to buy only sports tracksuits but players now have to manage their own transportation fees which is really hard for players belonging from poor family backgrounds.”

She says she earns between Rs 300-400 daily from her small business and has been receiving encouragement from customers and passersby ever since a picture of her cutting fruits on her stand went viral. She further told IFP,

“Almost all of my customers encourage me, there are also some who give me more than the actual price of the salad as an act of encouragement and support.”

According to All Manipur Taekwondo Association, as Ningombam is not a member anymore, the association cannot take care of her expenses during international tours.

Here’s how people reacted to her viral picture on social media: