A ten-year-old Karate player from West Bengal, Arinjita Dey has been winning medals for the country and yet, not many noticed. Arinjita was just five when she was drawn towards karate. Seeing films like Mary Kom and Dangal, she developed an interest in sports and within four months of learning, one medal was already in her kitty. Soon into the training, her coach spotted talent in her and advised her to train more.

Arinjita, who won a silver medal in the World Youth Cup earlier this year, in the under-12 age group category, hails from Barasat. The tournament was held in Umag, Croatia from July 1 to July 5, 2019 She is a student of Hanshi Premjit Sen, president of Premjit Sen Martial Art Academy in West Bengal. A class 4 student, Arinjita has been learning Karate from Premjit Sen for three years now.

At Sub Junior National Karate Championships, ​Arinjita’s gold medal haul came in for three consecutive years; 2017, 2018, and 2019 (Gold and Silver medal). With time, she grabbed attention at various competitions even though sponsorship was hard to come by. She made mistakes and changed the routine and tried again.

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Coming from a small village, Arinjita, a three-time winner in national championships, is steadily grabbing the spotlight for her resounding agility in unarmed combat sports. In 2018, at the Commonwealth Karate Cup she represented India, and clinched two Silver and one Bronze medals at Durban, South Africa. If that’s not enough, at this young age Arinjita aspires to train poor girls and one day will open up her own training center for upcoming talent.

At 10, Karate Kid Arinjita Dey From Barasat Is Making Waves
Arinjita Dey on the mat, look at her go

This gem of a karateka speaks to SheThePeople.TV about what inspires her, what is discouraging and how important it is for young girls to have a definitive future goal. As she belongs to a poor family, she can’t be completely self-sustaining right now. She is looking forward to raise money for future games.

What inspired you to dream about making a career in karate?

I would credit this to my cousin Ankit. I watched films like Mary Kom and Dangal and it had huge impact on me. I decided to take up sports, and karate was my first choice since it runs in the family. I took it up at the age of five and within four months of learning, I won a bronze in a state level competition.

Also, I still remember my father’s motivational speech to me while I was still deciding on it. He told me girls are not weak, they are strong and more powerful than boys and I never thought twice.

At 10, Karate Kid Arinjita Dey From Barasat Is Making Waves

The career you have chosen leads you to many criticism or roadblocks. At such a young age, how do you deal with them?

More than me, my parents had to face criticism. Raising a girl who loves sports isn’t easy.They were told that girls should only focus on studies and arts. Thankfully, my parents chose not to believe it.

You are one of the young professional female karate players in India. How did your life change with sports?

Initially, my coach saw huge potential in me and started sending me to competitions. After winning at the World Youth Cup, now young girls come up to me and ask all about the sport. I have the right goal, supportive parents and coach. What more do I need? Those who have once criticized my family now respect my father, listen to his advice today.

Arinjita’s father is a well-respected man in Barasat who also demonstrates how to fight eve teasing, acid attack, etc to girls. Arinjita says she is inspired by him as he gives a social cause to her professional life.

You have shared the stage with the big names from the fraternity. What did you learn from the industrial legends?

To never give up, participation makes it perfect.

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Since you are still a kid who has tons to learn, what are the challenges you overcame every day?

I need to be physically strong. While money and criticism are still some issues that trouble me time to time, I am learning how to control my mind. Adjusting between study and sports is still a concern but I will get there eventually.

At 10, Karate Kid Arinjita Dey From Barasat Is Making Waves

You belong from a traditional background, do you face any criticism and discouragement from society? If yes, how do you manage to overcome those

I dream strong and focus high. I want to be a world champion.

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As a budding Karate kid in the industry, how do you think India is progressing?

In my school there are various projects initiated like now they are educating people about karate, motivating girls for self defence, and more.

Arinjita credits her success to her coach Premjit, her father and the biggest inspiration of her life – her mother.

In our country, you can see the highest number of female sportspersons in karate than any other sports.

Tell us about your goals and upcoming tournaments you’re aiming at?

I wish to win Asian games, World championship senior, Olympics and to represent Indian karate team and winning medals for India. One day, I would like to give training to poor girls.

At 10, Karate Kid Arinjita Dey From Barasat Is Making Waves

Your message to young girls who dare to dream different and want to go against the societal barriers is?

Just chase your dreams. There will be struggles but are they bigger than your dreams?

What drives you towards the sport? What does it mean to you?

Sports made me complete. It gave me a goal in life and made me stronger to face challenges. Also I feel strong now that I am capable of fighting eve-teasing, dowry or assaults

At 10, Karate Kid Arinjita Dey From Barasat Is Making Waves
Arinjita Dey with coach Hanshi Premjit Sen

 What do you think before a game?

I study my competitors and practice a lot.

What are your biggest challenges right now?

My parents are having tough time financing this game. Sponsorship is hard to come by. My coach and a few close relatives help me sometimes but that’s not enough. I need around 4.5 lakhs for upcoming national and international competitions, plus training, equipment are very costly.

At 10, Karate Kid Arinjita Dey From Barasat Is Making Waves

My father took so many loans, sacrificed so much for my sports career. We have sold my mother’s ornaments. That’s why I am determined to find support from the government or an NGO.

People only appreciate cricket. There is no money or less support for all the other sports.

At 10, Karate Kid Arinjita Dey From Barasat Is Making Waves

Who are the sportswomen that you look up to?

Hima Das and Vinesh Phogat, these names are an inspiration for budding sports lovers like me. Seeing them fighting for medals has helped us dream big.

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