Telugu Yoddhas' mainstay, Deepak Madhav, shared his journey, one which was full of challenges and difficulties, which led to him playing for the Telugu Yoddhas in Ultimate Kho Kho 2022.
Madhav is an experienced campaigner, having played kho kho for over a decade. He disclosed how he wanted to make a career in sports but could never really choose which sport he wanted to participate in. He spoke about the advantages of kho kho, with it being a sport that does not require a lot of investment.
“I have been playing Kho Kho for the past 12-13 years. When I was in school, I had an interest in sports but I could not choose which sport to play. Everyone used to play cricket but it was an expensive sport. Kho Kho is a game that can be played without much expenditure."
The 27-year old started off as a Langdi player and switched to kho kho when he was selected by his school teacher to participate in the same.
"There used to be a sports competition at our school with many sports such as langdi etc. Our sir used to select players for each game. Initially, I used to play Langdi. After that, I was selected into Kho Kho.”
The adept defender divulged his troubles during the lockdown, where his fitness levels dropped as a result of which, he was unable to participate in the Nationals, a huge blow after which Madhav considered his career in sports to be finished.
"I was unable to practice during the lockdown and that’s why my fitness levels dropped. So when the next Nationals came around after the lockdown, I couldn't participate. I was livid at myself for not being able to participate."
"I thought my career was over since I missed the Nationals and I thought no team would pick me in this league either. However, I had some hope and I kept practicing and improved my fitness. Thankfully, the selection was not done solely on the basis of the past Nationals.”
"They used to ask me to study and get a job" - Deepak Madhav on perception of people towards kho kho prior to UKK
Madhav spoke about his family background and revealed that he was the sole bread-earner since his father was unable to go to work after being operated upon while his mother is a housewife. He also elaborated on his journey and how thankful he was to kho kho for providing him with a job in the Railways.
“I belong to a middle class family. My brother and sister are married. My father cannot go to the office because he was recently operated upon. My mother is a housewife. I have a job in the Railways and I got the job only because of Kho Kho. I represented the Railways in the two Nationals before the lockdown. I have also played in the South Asian Games where I won gold."
His family supported him completely despite the perception of people earlier that there was not much scope for growth in the sport. Madhav's sister, a Kabaddi player, could not pursue the sport after an injury and hence, wanted Madhav to fulfill her dream of making it to the big stages.
“There was plenty of support for me from my family. My sister is a national-level Kabaddi player. However, in school, she suffered a knee injury and had to leave the game. People used to question me earlier regarding my choice to play kho kho."
"They used to ask me to study and get a job. However, my family supported me completely and allowed me to pursue it. I was moderate in my studies but my inclination was towards kho kho. In my fourth attempt, I was selected in Western Railways as a kho kho player.”
Madhav was also pleased by the recognition that he started receiving after being seen on television. He hopes that the league continues to grow in stature to provide employment for future generations.
“There are posters of Ultimate Kho Kho everywhere. People now recognize me by my name and surname. Even on social media, I have gotten some recognition. For the upcoming generation, kho kho is going to provide employment and a stage as well. I hope this becomes a success.”
Telugu Yoddhas, courtesy of some brilliant performances, have secured a spot in Qualifier 2 and will be looking to blow away the Gujarat Giants in a bid to face the Odisha Juggernauts in the finals of the tournament.