Siona Fernandes still likes to be known as a Goan girl who studied the art of Bharatanatyam for 17 years under the Gurukul system. Born a catholic, she embraced this art form which is based on mainly hinduism but is now a believer of buddism, all of which are her roots and Indian origin.
“My journey has been one where life has shown me that if your carry your strengths in the times of weakness you will always find victory in the end!”
She completed her masters in psychology in Bangalore University, and decided to visit her father soon after, here in New Zealand. After getting a job at the Auckland city mission as a social worker and her work permit, she followed what was her dream, and eventually represented New Zealand in the Olympics in Boxing, and has never been home since.
“This country has provided me with other opportunities, such as a current practicing career in the fitness industry, my training in the NZ army defence force , as a medic and infantry qualified soldier, and undoubtedly my boxing.
Coming from India, it’s a lot less busy here both population and lifestyle, very similar to Goa, so I quiet enjoy it here, however Bangalore had a lot more going for me , as in studies and dancing and sport, while it’s hard to find that momentum here.”
When it comes to being influenced, she think s of two people in my life, one my dance Guru, Prof M.R.Krishnamurthy, and secondly David Tua, who truly showed me the reasons behind the art of boxing.
Participating in the games was an experience of a lifetime having shared 3 months of intensive training with the most amazing athletes in the world, learning various training systems and understanding different natures of coaching. London was an athlete’s paradise to most, but to her it was a test of will for glory.
“After my bout, the experience of the closing ceremony was moving, knowing that all these athletes work so hard and suffer so much pain, for glory, that’s worth dying for.”
She still is fixed to her roots. The style of Bharatanatyam she practices is Kalakshetra style, founded by Rukmini Devi. It’s more rigid in its style calling for clear distinct flow of movement that cannot be altered.
“I was 6 year old when my mother put me into dance class” she remembers, “I topped the merit list and was given a scholarship for further study within the country and got admitted to Kalakshetra in Chennai, however, being a goan got the better of me and I struggled to adjust to the lifestyle and cuisine at the school!”
The past 6 years have been very busy and productive for her sporting career and passions. The frequent travelling left little free time to be involved in culturally. However this year was her first celebration of Diwali on Queens St, which incidentally made her realize that how long there was no color in her life.
“Yes, India is about color. And the festival was full of it. being the biggest minority communities in Auckland I wish to be welcomed in assisting the people live better lifestyles and address their health concerns, promoting better wellbeing within this community if not already. Ayurveda is the best form of nutrition yet very little of us follow this due to poor lifestyle choices. I wish to renew this natural form of medicine and hence my trip to India in Jan 2014 will include a study qualification in Ayurveda to bring it back to our community here.”
Her future plans ahead, is to find support to help her perform shows in the country and community and inspire the youth and those who seek a better lifestyle, be it through dance or other forms of fitness best suited to them.
“I believe this is my call, to dance and inspire others around me and show them how!”