Poverty drives city footballer to attempt record for balancing a football on his head; he walked, ate, drank and even exercised with the ball balanced on his head
Photographer: Sachin Haralkar
On Friday, Manoj Mishra sought to challenge a Guinness record by balancing a football on his head for two hours and 15 minutes. Then, instead of removing the football, he moved around with it on his head for another nine and a half hours. During this time, he ate, drank water, visited the toilet and even performed a set of stretching exercises!
Although Mishra will have to perform his feat again for the Guinness team, he considers his effort record-breaking.
A footballer himself, Mishra said, “The reason I endeavoured to break this record is very simple – poverty. The clubs I play football for don’t pay me enough. By breaking this record, I hope to attract some sponsorship so I can play football and make some money.”
Mishra, who hails from a Mednapur village, near Kolkata, used to play football for clubs in Kolkata. “But even there they didn’t pay me anything. So I had to quit the city in search for a job.”
Mishra came to Mumbai one and a half years ago and landed a job as a sweeper with the Samarth Vyayam Mandir, a club that teaches kho-kho and gymnastics. He then approached bigger clubs like Bombay Port Trust for sponsorship, but they didn’t have place for him as they “had to provide for their regular players”.
“These clubs assist players so that they can work for three hours a day and play football for the club the rest of the time and yet draw a monthly pay to support them,” explains Mishra.
He was lead player for Dadar 11, a smaller football club, which he quit as they paid him a mere Rs 50 per match. “So I had to go back to my sweeper’s job, which pays me Rs 1,000 a month,” Mishra said.
Mishra chose the world record he targeted carefully. “I could juggle a football in between my head, hands, thighs and feet continuously for 3 hours, but the world record for doing the same was 20 hours, so I gave it up,” Mishra explained. “Instead, I decided to go for balancing the football on my head while standing at one spot.”
For this, Mishra trained for three months, running on sand for hours on end to increase stamina and performing yoga exercises for balance. “It may not seem so, but stamina is as important as balance for something like holding a ball on your head,” Mishra explained.
The event was sponsored by different people, all friends of Mishra. “One friend sponsored the seats for the press to sit on, while another sponsored a camera so we could shoot,” laughs Mishra. “Now after we send this evidence to the Guinness committee they will come down and I’ll have to do it again to officially verify it.”
This article first appeared in Mumbai Mirror, Times Of India: http://alturl.com/dxxw