The indoor games these days are often limited to mobile games, but 15 years back, this was not so. Indoor games were limited to mostly antakshari, ludo and carrom.
By the way, do you know that carrom is a sport that is played at National and even International Championships? Don’t believe me, you will, once I tell you about this gentleman who was awarded the once in a lifetime, Shree Shiv Chhatrapati Krida Puraskar and who is the ONLY Sportsperson in India who has been awarded as “Legends Of Carrom” by Pakistan Carrom Federation! This is just a sneak peak at the collection of his awards! He has made India proud several times and it is my privilege to introduce you to Shri Yogesh Pardeshi.
Qs- Tell me about your journey as a player.
Ans- I was born in Subhash Nagar, a slum near Yerawada in Pune. My father was a daily wage worker at the railways.
I must be in 9th standard when one evening, my mother asked me to call my brother from a nearby carrom club. When I reached there he was playing and he asked me to wait. I observed him as I waited. This happened several times and lead to my fascination towards this amazing game.
My father wasn’t very pleased at my interest in this sport, as we were literally from hand to mouth, but my mother supported me in whichever way possible. She would secretly give me money to play at the club.
My father passed away in 2008.
Life ahead was very difficult. My mother struggled to make ends meet and also ensured that I kept playing! If it was not for her, I wouldn’t be what I am today. I dedicate all my success to my mother.
As I continued playing, my game got better. I wanted to participate in district level competitions, but couldn’t even afford the entry fee!
Let me tell you about one such competition. I sold my father’s liquor bottles and a metal bucket to make money for the entry fee. This competition was being held at Nehru stadium which was about 10 kms away from my house. I had to reach there at 9 am every day. This meant starting at 7 am from my house and walking all the way for the next 2 hours! Walking was not the problem, the problem was- my broken slippers.
The first 2 days, I somehow covered this distance mending the slippers with a metal string every time they broke on the way.
I would start from my house having just a cup of tea and would be hungry by the time I reached. I knew that if I wanted to play a good game, I needed to have a decent meal before the match.
Just when I was contemplating on how to arrange for food before the match, there was an announcement from the head referee inviting volunteers for refereeing. Each referee would be receiving a refreshments coupon every day.
I jumped in! I would act as a referee for 2 matches before my match and use the food coupon for a cup of tea and a cream roll.
The next day is one of the most memorable days of my life! As I was getting ready for the match, my mother noticed my broken slippers and asked me to wear my brother’s slippers instead.
I reached the venue with lesser trouble. Also, I won the match! I received the prize money of Rs 501 and felt like all my effort had been gratified!
In the evening my friend Rajan Jharekar give me a ride home in his rickshaw.
My biggest strength throughout my journey, my mother expired in 2010.
I studied till 12th standard from a government aided school. Getting into a college was out of the question, because making ends meet was more important than education.
I made it a point to practice for 8-10 hours a day!
I graduated from district to state level competitions! In 1997, I won the state level Carrom Championship and for the first time moved the title from Mumbai to Pune. In 1998, I was selected in the Maharashtra State Team for the National Carrom Championship and in 2000, I was part of the Indian National Team which participated in the 3rd World Carrom Championship.
At the National level, I was at rank 4! At this time, the Indian Team won the Team Championship, Doubles Championship and I was the runner-up for the Singles Championship.
Post these awards, I was offered a job at the Indian Oil Corporation as a clerk in 2001.
In the same year, I represented India in the 1st Carrom World Cup at London and was the runner up in Doubles and secured the 3rd position at the singles competition.
In 2002, The Indian Oil Corporation promoted me to a grade ‘A’ officer. Joining the Indian Oil Corporation solved my financial woes to a certain extent and gave me what I utmost desired for – time to concentrate on my game!
I became the World Champion at the 2nd Carrom World Cup in 2006 and the 5th World Carrom Championship at Cannes in 2008. I retained this Championship at the 3rd Carrom World Cup at America in 2010.
Then the Indian Oil Corporation promoted me to grade ‘B’ officer in 2011.
I give all the credit of my success to my family, Indian Oil Corporation and my friends Rajan Jharekar and Nitin Bora.
Qs- I am sure you have many fan moments. Please share one with us!
Ans-In 2000, I became the World number 2 Champion at the Talkatora Stadium, New Delhi. There were many people who wanted to get clicked with me! It was a proud moment! This was the first time I wore The TEAM INDIA BLAZER and formal shoes!
A player from Maldives asked for my autograph. I didn’t even know how to give an autograph then! I just wrote Y U Pardeshi on his autograph book.
There is another incident very close to my heart! When I was playing at the 3rd Carrom World Cup at America in 2010, I was playing against Shri B Radhakrishnan! It was a privilege to play against such a senior player.
Carrom is a 25 point game. Towards the end of the game, he had made 20 points whereas I had scored only 2! It was a very tough match and before he could score 5 points, I scored 25!
To win a match against Shri Radhakrishnan was an achievement in itself. I was overwhelmed! I walked to the canteen after sometime and I found someone literally sobbing on my victory! I was extremely touched by this gesture and asked him for an autograph!
Qs- Please give a message for people who aspire to take carrom professionally.
Ans- Every sport needs a proper training. I never had any, but I learnt my game by observing opponents, identify my mistakes, rectifying them and practicing consistently, which I do till today.
If you want to pursue carrom professionally, practice as much as you can and learn from your mistakes.
Article arranged by Sudarshan Thakur.
This article has been written by Pooja Gupta.
She is a freelance writer, anchor and a former Radio Jockey. She hosts all kinds of shows all over India and writes everything from ads, promos, articles, dialogues, short films, screenplays, feature films and even web series. For work, she can be contacted on email@example.com.
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