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Sports & I

During my school days, professionally, I have played football (soccer), basketball, athletics (track & field sprint and long jump) and Kho-Kho respectively. When my coach saw me as a left hander, he told me to switch to basketball. However, a kid, I said i) my friend is playing football so I will stick to football and ii) my height is not that good to switch. These arguments were too callow I was in mini-juniors (13 year age group) that time. Nevertheless, I played division level football (i.e. represented my district) with my same friend. Then I played basketball in my club wherein I realized advantages of being a natural left-handed player. I did not play basketball beyond club because of height I was hardly 4’10” when I was in juniors at that level average height used to be 5’7”+.

I always enjoyed playing so I continued that. Somehow, I was a quick learner for sports and as a recreation whenever we switched games I got to the groove of recreational game quickly. I played Kho-Kho and realized that it’s a good game however; I would not like to continue playing it. By these many years I became good athlete. So, I used to lead the warm-up+exercise sessions of club and camps. One of my old time basketball player friend told me – ‘Pravin, please train me in running, when I see you running I see every step is so coherent, even and equidistant that I feel that you are meant for running and I should learn it from you’.

I used to complete my 100m in 11:02 seconds (somewhere in, by or before 1995). I did not continue playing because our school principal used to tell, not give in writing, that you may continue playing but you will be marked absent in school. I started concentrating on my studies keeping sports aside. I think it was good I could reach among topper in school and go to good engineering institute. For few years sports were at bay such that when I went to an Olympic type track I felt ashamed and sorry for the sport and for myself. Somehow I started jogging and exercising again. The comment made to me looking at me was – ‘I see professionals playing here and you are not with them. Let me tell you, when I watch you exercising, it seems sports come to you naturally and you are better than the professionals doing exercise. It is like watching a dancer dance to the full potential but naturally; like a priest performing his prayer, someone following his religion and you are doing full justice to it.’

Almost 8-10 years post being a professional player, I got a chance to play football at Khel Gaon (Asiad Village) Delhi (six-a-side in hockey ground) with an office team. The office was a proprietorship firm and the team included three sons of the proprietor and members of the office. At my debut there, I hit a goal for my side within 2 min of play and player came to know that I may be a good player. It was a bad sign for one of the son of the proprietor; incidentally he was in opposite team. His monopoly as a best player was at stake I could run faster than anyone there, I could play better at any position.

Then over next play offs people started asking me where do you want to play? Actually, I used to play in 5-3-2-1 format as a ‘left-in’ player (a forward in general), but I always said ‘I would play anywhere the team wants me to play and feels best required for winning’. It was such a set back to that son that he instead of playing football started playing rugby against me. Once, I was terribly hit on back side of my head and was on ground for a while … and the game moved on. Seriously, the life moves on whether some fall or other rise. This office team played in some evening corporate tournaments and lost badly 6-0 or something, I was a spectator. The arrogant son nevertheless taught me some lessons.

The lesson for me was – the captain (leader for that matter) should be humble yet demanding, excellent player yet encourage others to play at their best (it could be better than the personal best of the captain), first a team player than a team leader and should not demand respect but earn it (actually, respect follows when you do your best and do not care for any other trifling thing - SEEMS LIKE GEETA GYAN).