When asked about his academic and professional background, Samar says nonchalantly, “I studied adventure sports in New Zealand. And now, slacklining is my professional calling.”
When Samar Farooqui brought Slacklining to India for the first time five years ago, it was very new. Hardly anyone knew about it. He says, “There were not more than 30 to 40 people doing it. And now, there are thousands who do slacklining. It is slowly getting popular.”
But it was not very easy convincing Indian to try this sport. Samar says that when compared to other countries, Indians are risk-averse. He says, “Each country has a collective mentality. And when it comes to Indians, they score very low on the risk curve. Also, the typical idea here of a holiday is booking a room in a resort and relaxing there. We have been brought up in protective and sheltered environments, and that explains why we don’t take up something that has perceived risk. So, the first question I would face was what is slacklining? It began with the basics. I had to create a demand and then provide the supply. It was a double whammy. But now, I am happy to see that slacklining has actually turned into a community sport.”
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Samar faced a couple of challenges on this untrodden path of bringing slacklining to India. He says, “For the first two years, I reached out to people in my network. As awareness grew, so did a reputation for the sport. Now, I have brand associations with Mercedes, Mountain Dew, India’s Got Talent, VFS Global. So, essentially it was like strategic marketing, but at an organic level. Personally, I don’t want slacklining to be reduced to a fad, that passes with time. That is why I am working on building the vibe, along with the value for the sport. Now, there are community meetups, where each city has some people conducting the sessions. I work with tribal and underprivileged children. Slacklining adds a lot of value to life. Personally, I have achieved balance in life. When people see this value that slacklining brings to their life, they also get interested in trying it.”
Samar says that the test for trying slacklining is very simple. If you can stand on one leg for three seconds, and then try standing on the other leg for three seconds, it means you can have a go at the sport. He adds, “Slacklining is like life in many ways. There is a process of trial and error. You are bound to fail the first few times. But then muscle memory kicks in, the brain adapts, and you can easily slackline.”
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Samar holds professional sessions for slacklining, where he brings all the equipment and does a five hours workshop to introduce the basics. After that, you can slackline on your own. He also holds workshops for those who want to upgrade their skills. He holds corporate sessions, where employees can try slacklining within the office space for different team building models. This is especially useful when companies want to impart experiential education to the team, but don’t have the time to move out.
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Samar Farooqui is a star on the Indian slacklining scene. He has represented India at many international slacklining events, like the Urban Highline Festival in Poland and Landskrona Festival in Sweden.
So, if you want to try something completely new and enjoy a great thrill, plan your next adventure for slacklining.