Nationality – Indian
Age – 17 years
His Dream – Playing cricket for India
Meet Yashasvi Jaiswal, a young cricketer who is a part of the Under-19 Indian Cricket Team which is on a month-long tour in Sri Lanka and has just won their first test match in the series.
Jaiswal’s family lives in Badohi, Uttar Pradesh. His father is a small time shopkeeper there and it was a daily struggle for him to feed his family. So, when 11-year-old Yashasvi chose to move to Mumbai to achieve his dream, his father did not stop him.
When he arrived in Mumbai, he initially stayed at a diary at Kalbadevi. However, that was short lived as they threw him out “…saying I do nothing, don’t help them and only sleep”. His uncle Santosh, who was a manager at the Muslim United Club, requested his bosses if the boy could live on the grounds and for 3 years, the tent at Azad Maidan became home for him. In 2013, while he was practicing cricket at Azad Maidan, he was noticed by Jwala Singh, who runs a cricket academy in Santa Cruz. Singh, who could very well relate to the boy’s struggles, took him under his wing and gave him the training and guidance he needed to improve his game.
The hardships faced by Yashasvi would make anyone rethink their decision, but his determination to achieve his dream gave him the strength to overcome all of it. He talks about how he would sell pani-puri and fruits to earn money; occasionally his father did send some money but it was never enough. He would even play games with older boys to score and earn ₹200 – ₹300. His recalls how his teammates would bring food or their parents had big lunches for them, for him it was “khana khud banao, khud khao. (make your own food, eat alone).” There would be days when he would go to sleep on an empty stomach because no food had been cooked in the groundsmen’s tent. And if there was dinner, “Every night used to be a candlelight dinner. After all, there was no electricity.” He remembers the days when he would shamelessly accompany his teammates for lunch, knowing he did not have any money and he would tell them “paisa nahi hai, bhook hai’ (I don’t have money but am hungry).” According to him, the most difficult part was going to sleep at night without using the toilet because “there was no toilet at the maidan, and the one near Fashion Street that I used was closed at night.”
There were times when he missed his family and would cry but he made sure that these stories of his struggles never reached his parents in Bhadohi, as that would end his cricket career.
His Mumbai U-19 coach, Satish Samant feels that Jaiswal could be the next big Mumbai Player because of his “ability to read a bowlers mind and adapt to a situation” and that “…he is cut off from social media” which allows him to focus on his game.
Recently, he had the privilege of meeting Sachin Tendulkar, who not only gave him an autographed bat but also a crash course on batting. When asked about the pressures in professional cricket, Jaiswal says that they are nothing compared to the pressure he has faced daily in his life for years. For him, “Scoring runs is not important. I know I will score and take wickets. For me, whether I get the next meal or not, that’s important.”
Yashavi Jaiswal’s story adapted from – https://indianexpress.com/article/sports/cricket/lived-in-a-tent-sold-pani-puri-slept-hungry-now-he-plays-cricket-for-india-under-19-5244796/
Adapted By: Preetika Soni