By Ashok Kumar Shaw
Telugu Titans raider Rohit Baliyan has probably learnt his raiding skills fighting the odds in life and peers and family members who discouraged him from pursuing kabaddi as a career.
“That was my first day at kabaddi. We played against the seniors and I got hit as they knew how to play the sport. I got cuts and bruises,” recollects Rohit. “They asked me to go. They said, ‘Beta mat khel… yeh acha nahin hain.. (Son, don’t play, this is not good.)’, but I said, ‘This is good. I will play.’ I had interest in Kabaddi since beginning. I used to like playing kabaddi.”
And few years down the line, Rohit is a professional kabaddi player plying his trade for Telugu Titans in Pro Kabaddi League.
But it was not a smooth ride. He faced opposition from his own family members who just wanted Rohit to do well in studies and make a career in it.
“I started in sub-junior nationals in Goa and kept on playing kabaddi in my village in UP. Papa kept on saying..beta padhai kar le (Son, please study) but my interest was in kabaddi. So as soon as I pass High School, papa said ‘Nahin beta, do higher studies, do a good course, become something’,” Rohit remembers. “I said, ‘No I will play kabaddi’. I continued kabaddi and won gold in junior nationals in Bhopal. After that medal, I tried for job. In South Eastern Railways, I got a job as a TT at the age of 18.”
And what does his father says now. “My father is very happy now.. He says my son has made me proud…In my village, when people talks about me, papa bahut khush hote hain (Father gets very happy). He says proudly, ‘Yes, my son has gone to play kabaddi’.”