“I just played throughout my life for the love of athletics,” said Assam’s first woman athlete to become five times National Games Champion since 1971 and represent India in the Asian games in 1982, Tayabun Nisha. While remembering her nostalgic moments from the past in her hometown Sibsagar, Assam, Tayabun shared how she would practice for hours together in the Durbar Ali field of Sivasagar and participate in every possible sporting event during her childhood. Tayabun Nisha never had the privilege of world class facilities and global sponsorship for athletics when she started. She played many other games alongside athletics which included team events like kabbadi, hockey and volley ball. “Athletics depends a lot on individual effort and commitment,” said Tayabun while sharing about her humble beginning in the world of sports. She remembers her mentor who hailed from Manipur, Surendra Kumar Singh who inspired her to win laurels for her home state of Assam.
Struggles of survival prepared Tayabun very early in her life to shoulder heavy responsibilities of her eight siblings when she lost her parents. Such struggles could never deter Tayabun from becoming a National Champion in athletics. When asked about why athletics was her option for a sporting event, she shared, “In any university when one takes admission for education, you need to select a particular course and then you get enrolled into that course. In the same way, I too gave my name for discus throw within athletics and won medals for the country.” For women like Tayabun Nisha, dedication and determination became her most precious possessions to become a pioneer in athletics in Assam. Athletics is a sport which does not need too much investment in resources at the very outset like other sports where accessories and equipments consume huge resources. Anybody with an interest in athletics can begin from ground zero. Tayabun recalls, “Preparation for athletics needs personal fitness and sincerity towards the sport. There is hardly any monetary investment required to begin training for athletics.” She also added, “When I used to play in the sports grounds for long hours even at night, only the on-duty security personnel would help me in fetching the discus from the snake ridden grounds. But somehow such interest and commitment is missing in athletics today in Assam. Even though currently, diverse sports facilities are available in Assam, not too many people are interested in athletics.” Tayabun Nisha also lamented that in Assam one cannot survive only as a sports person, one has to complete their academics, get a job and then if there is time, play some games. But she also focused on the alternate trend where sports can also build a decent career for any aspirant within some of the best avenues available in the Government and Private sectors. These days Government supports players with decent monetary compensation and prospects of getting a permanent Government appointment is faster after winning medals in National and International events than any other professional training.
An international athlete can emerge from any part of the country believes Tayabun. She reaffirms her faith that in recent times, youth whose hard work and untiring zeal for sports has created super sports sensations like Shiva Thapa and Mary Kom in North East India. She also commemorated the contribution of Arjuna Awardee Bhogeshwar Barua in the field of athletics in Assam as exemplary. Tayabun Nisha believes that rural youths have the grit, courage and commitment towards becoming international achievers in athletics too. Just like any profession needs years of training and experience, winning a medal in athletics also requires at least 4-5 years of consistent effort and rigorous training. Her aspiration is to provide coaching for rural youths if any agency comes forward to support her mission to create trailblazers in the field of athletics in Assam. Even though she has retired from her Indian Railways job, she is still associated with diverse sports associations including the Assam Olympics Association, Maharana Club and Assam Athletics Association as the Vice-President of all the three bodies and mentors young sports enthusiasts through her Nishad Physical Training Centre in Adabari in Guwahati.
Tayabun Nessa has been honoured with the ‘Yamin Hazarika Women of Substance Award 2016’ for her commitment, dedication and contribution towards women’s athletics in Assam. We salute her strength, resilience and reverence towards athletics and she will be a living legend for millions of future athletes from Assam.