By Santosh Digal
Manila, November 3, 2019: Alica Joe is a graduate of Masters in Finance from St. Ann’s Women’s PG College, Mehdipatnam, Hyderabad.
She was one of the winners of National Youth Achievers Award 2019 given by the Conference of the Catholic bishops of India (CCBI) in Hyderabad on October 17.
She is the only qualified coach and judge in southern India in rhythmic gymnastics, although there are a few coaches who train in artistic gymnastics.
Alica hopes to produce quality gymnastics players and rhythmic gymnasts to bring laurels to Telangana state.
Her students are winning medals at many events at the district and national level. One of her students won a medal at a Khammam event. Alica aims to win the Dronacharya Award before the age of 40, she says.
Matters India Special Correspondent in Manila, Santosh Digal, conducted an email interview with Alica about her work, experiences and JOE’s Gymnastics Academy.
Please tell us about yourself.
I joined Gymnastics at the age of 3.5 years at L.B. Stadium, Nampally, Hyderabad. I started representing the state (Andhra Pradesh now Telangana state) at the age of 12. I won medals at National level Rhythmic Gymnastics Competitions. I have experience as a Gymnastics player for 16 years.
I got retired as a Gymnastics player in 2015 after National Games. After achieving success as a Gymnastics player, I moved to the field of officiating. In 2017, I was the first-ever judge from South India for Rhythmic Gymnastics for being nominated by the Gymnastics Association of Telangana State for the International Judging Course held at Sofia, Bulgaria.
I represented India as an International Rhythmic Gymnastics Judge at Zhong Ling International Rhythmic Gymnastics Cup held at Beijing, China, 2017. I represented Telangana state as a Judge for Khelo India Youth Games held at Pune, 2019 and joined WUSHU (A Chinese Martial Arts) in 2016.
How and why did you get interested in rhythmic gymnastics?
My father Joseph James, who is an Asian Gold medalist in the sport of Power Lifting, was my inspiration to be in the field of sports.
What is the difference between Artistic Gymnastics and Rhythmic Gymnastics?
There are a lot of differences between the two. Artistic Gymnastics and Rhythmic Gymnastics allow both male and female gymnasts to participate and compete.
Artistic gymnastics focuses mainly on strength, balance, and agility. Rhythmic Gymnastics routines, on the other hand, allows only female gymnasts to compete and are all performed on the floor while using various types of apparatuses.
You have established an academy. How is it different from others?
Yes, I converted my passion into my career by opening my own Gymnastics Academy named JOE’s Gymnastics Academy in July 2019.
My only motto is to promote gymnastics in India and produce quality gymnasts for the country. And I want to prove, “What is the actual duty and responsibility being as a good coach?” rather than simply sitting and drawing government salary. Sadly, money nowadays appointed coaches are doing.
What has been your journey so far as a gymnastics player?
As a gymnast, I have experience of 16 years and in the officiating field, I have experience of four years. In total, I have 20 years of experience in the field of sports.
Who has played a significant role in your career?
My coach Miss. Pooja Surve and Russian coach Margarita Mamun (RIO Olympics gold medalist) have played major roles in my gymnastics career.
What is the role of the Catholic faith in your career?
I have good lots of support from St. Michael’s Church, Golconda, Hyderabad, and the parish priest.
What are the challenges you have faced to achieve laurels?
I have faced many internal politics and partiality in judging, because of which I lost many of my medals.
Is gymnastics a gender-specified sport?
Yes, gymnastics is gender specified sport. Like, my game is Rhythmic Gymnastics which is played only by female gymnasts.
Do you think gymnastics get the same attention and patronage from government, promoters, and people in India like hockey or cricket?
Gymnastics need to be promoted more and more so that the people will have awareness about the existence of the game.
Secondly, India lacks good gymnastics coaches, because of which the game is not promoted.
You were one of the 2019 National Young Achievers Award in recognition of changes you have impacted people’s lives and society. What was your reaction when you were told about the selection?
I was happy and was speechless when I was told that I have been nominated for the National Youth Award.
Through this award, I would like to be an inspiration to the upcoming generation.
Can youth from marginalized communities pursue gymnastics?
Gymnastics being a Russian Sport and also the costliest game, only the financial sound family can pursue it.
What are your plans?
As I told you earlier, I converted my passion into a career. My only aim as a coach is to produce good quality of gymnasts and also to show the right path to my students in means of discipline, punctuality, obedience and being a good citizen of India.
My dream is to win the Dronacharya award before the age of 40 years. And show India how a good coach can change a player’s life.
And final word.
First of all, parents need to know the importance of sports rather than sending their kids for physical fitness. Not only studies but sports can also give a bright future to their children.
I encourage reading my book “Role of sports in students’ career” which was appreciated by Osmania University, Hyderabad.