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Sacrifice and hard work bring results

Sacrifice and hard work bring results
Yashavi Jaiswal, 18-year old Indian batsman

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Last week, the BBC in a sports feature, focused on an 18-year old Indian batsman, Yashavi Jaiswal who was one of the stars of the last Under-19 World Cup. He has been awarded a big contract worth over a quarter of a million pounds to play for the Rajasthan team in this year’s Indian Premier League, the leading T20 domestic competition in the world.

When one examines his accomplishments, one is tempted to think of privilege. After all, he was the leading scorer in the Under-19 World Cup and became the youngest player to score a one-day double century, 203 off only 154 balls for Mumbai at the tender age of 17. He now rubs shoulders with the elite of world cricket in the IPL.

Yet life did not come easy for this young star and his life story is one with which young Caribbean cricketers, indeed athletes as a whole, should make themselves familiar. It demonstrates the extent to which dedication and sacrifice can help one to achieve one’s goals, in spite of the handicap of extreme poverty.

Jaiswal is from the rural state of Uttar Pradesh in India and with opportunities for advancement very limited in his village, had to leave home at the age of 10 to pursue his life’s dream of becoming a professional cricketer. He explained this in an interview with the BBC programme Test Match Special as follows:

“I just really wanted to play cricket, but in India, in a village, it’s not easy to get an opportunity. My seniors, they were telling me if you want to play cricket just go to Mumbai. That’s one thing that stuck in my head – whenever I went to sleep or when talking to my mum, I told her I wanted to go to Mumbai.”

Now Mumbai is the largest and wealthiest Indian city and for a poor boy to even think of going there much more to succeed at cricket, tells us a lot about his ambition. But Jaiswal promised to fund his own dream and more so, pledged that he wouldn’t return home until he had “achieved something”.

He ended up practising his cricket all day once he reached Mumbai. But how did he manage? It was far from easy, for in return for a roof over his head and money for his upkeep, he had to work at a dairy shop, child labour. The BBC says that this arrangement ended when he was thrown out because he was too tired to perform his chores after a long day at cricket.

Poor Jaiswal with nowhere to go begged to be allowed to stay the night and next day called his coach who agreed to take him in where he lived for the next two or three months. After this temporary arrangement, he moved into a tent with the groundsmen at the club where he practised.

“They told me if I wanted to live in their tent, I had to score runs,” he said. He also offered to help with scoring or umpiring. In addition, Jaiswal sold street food during religious festivals, but it was a threadbare existence. His diet consisted of lentils, rice, flour and potatoes with chicken reserved for Sundays, and he often had to go to sleep hungry.

Homesickness added to his misery, but he was determined to succeed. “When I missed my mum I would cry,” he said. “I didn’t tell people what was going on because I knew they would have told me to come home if I’m not comfortable. I just told them I was fine.”

He stuck it out and his achievements have rewarded his sacrifice and determination. Imagine an 18-year old young man with a contract to play cricket worth almost EC$ 900,000!

It is a story of perseverance and the will to succeed – a story that our young sportsmen and women can draw inspiration to overcome obstacles, hardship and lack of opportunities.