Aslam Inamdar overcomes adversities to live his dreams through Pro Kabaddi

Hailing from the Taklibhan village in Maharashtra, Puneri Paltan's Aslam Inamdar overcame plenty of struggles before living his dreams in the Pro Kabaddi League (PKL 8).

Aslam Inamdar

Aslam Inamdar has emerged as one of the breakthrough stars this Pro Kabaddi League season as he has scored 113 raid points in 16 matches for Puneri Paltan and is among the top-15 raiders in PKL 8.   -  PKL

Mereko dil me laga ki apun bhi kabhi yaha tak ja sakta hai  (I felt deep down that there will come a day when I can also play in the League),” Aslam Inamdar recalls thinking when he first watched the Pro Kabaddi League (PKL) in 2014. A lanky teenager who was nursing a fractured leg after playing in the sub-junior nationals, Aslam yearned to make a name for himself in the world of kabaddi.

Hailing from the Taklibhan village in Maharashtra, the sport of kabaddi which his elder brother took up first didn’t initially make sense to Aslam.

“My brother used to go to the kabaddi club every morning and evening and I used to wonder where he went. I was young then so I wasn't able to figure it out. I followed him to the ground a few times and remember asking him why do they do all of this - why do they throw each other around and shout while playing this game?”

In a team that's coached by the iconic Anup Kumar and features established stars such as Nitin Tomar, Rahul Chaudhari and Vishal Bharadwaj, one youngster has come come along and stolen the limelight - Aslam Inamdar. The young raider hailing from Taklibhan in Maharashtra has made coaches and fans turn around and take notice of his aptitude for the game and stunning skill set. From braving a broken leg to dealing with a tough financial situation at home, Aslam has overcome adversities aplenty to pursue his dream of becoming a professional kabaddi player.

Aslam is the first guest in Sportstar's special series - the Future Kings of Kabaddi.

 

 

The sport eventually grew on him and he picked it up at school. However, his brother was not thrilled at the idea of Aslam playing the game. “My father passed away in 2011. Our family condition was not good. My brother bore the responsibility of running the house and my mother used to do chores in people’s houses. My brother used to tell me to focus on studies and not on kabaddi since he was not able to find any success in the sport.”

Aslam Inamdar has been Puneri Paltan's top raider this season.

 

Aslam, though, doggedly trained every day and soon began to play alongside his brother’s peers. “I used to run to the ground before my brother would come (laughs). As soon as I’d see him I’d run out of the ground. The ground was such that my brother would enter from one side and I would run out from the other side. If he saw me on the ground then he would come home and scold me and he used to hit me too. My mother would not say anything because our family situation was such. 

“The senior players I trained with then spoke to my brother and told him that I play well and that he should encourage me. Soon after that, my brother landed a job in the Police department. He went away to train for the job and that was my chance to play! I played in the mornings and evenings with the senior players. Eventually, I got better and was chosen to play for our village team. We had a good team. We played a few local tournaments and I performed well and people began to notice my game,” he says.

But there was a phase when Aslam had to partly shoulder the responsibility to run the house, play kabaddi and also fulfil his dreams. A phase he describes as khatarnak (dangerous).

“There were tough times when I used to cry it out. There were days when we had no food to eat. We did not have our own house and we used to stay in someone else’s house. That house had a roof made of mud. The house would be flooded with water whenever it rained. The condition was such that we used to sit on the cooking vessels because there was water all around. It was almost a way of survival for us. 

“I remember looking at the sky through the holes in the roof and thinking ‘ya khuda yeh kya kar rahe ho humare saath’ (oh god, why are you doing this to us?) There were times when I felt this is my fate but I never lost hope. I kept going on,” he says.

As word spread about his talent, he was called up to play for the Maharashtra sub-junior team and later turned up for a team in the Thane district. “I then got a chance then to play for the Union Bank team. We played on mud back home and I had only seen kabaddi being played on a mat on TV. This was the first time where I had to play on a mat and I was quite worried about the fact that I had to wear shoes to play! I played well won the Best Player award and Union Bank finished third.”

Aslam Inamdar has 113 raid points in 16 matches and is among the top-15 raiders in PKL 8.   -  Special Arrangement

 

His stirring run then led to a call that changed his career. “There was a sir named Arun Mhatre from Thane district who told me to attend trials for the Air India team. The trials went on for 10 days and I was not chosen because I was young and also very skinny then. But I was undeterred, I was of the mindset that a big team has called me for a trial and that it did not matter that they did not choose me. I attended all their practice sessions and used to travel all the way to Kurla every day. It was a long journey and I used to come back home only around 11 pm. I’d have barely any time to eat.”

RELATED| PKL 8: From dominance to despair - what's going wrong with PKL record-breaker Pardeep Narwal?

The Air India kabaddi team was home to many legends of the sport such as Ajay Thakur, Deepak Niwas Hooda and Rahul Chaudhari, to name a few and Aslam was keen to make the opportunity count. His relentless efforts did not go unnoticed. “I used to be regular for the practice sessions and they did not stop me from training with them. Ashok Shinde, who was the coach of the Air India team and is now Puneri Paltan’s mentor, noticed that I was coming to train regularly. He began to take an interest in me and used to work on my game. My game improved thereon and he then gave me a direct chance in the Air India team. I played as the main raider and I played for Air India for the next three years. I performed well throughout.”

He subsequently played for Puneri Paltan’s youth team, Yuva Paltan, for close to three years and joined the senior team for the training camp last season. He made his debut this campaign and has emerged as one of the breakthrough stars with 113 raid points in 16 matches and is among the top-15 raiders in PKL 8.

"Aslam’s main weapon is his speed. He is so quick that the defenders don’t know what he’s going to do next," says his coach Anup Kumar.

 

While he is a tricky customer on the mat, what sets him apart is the swagger with which he carries himself and his penchant to shine in clutch situations.

Puneri Paltan coach Anup Kumar, an Arjuna awardee and one of the most successful captains of the Indian national team, is generous in his praise for Aslam. “Aslam’s main weapon is his speed. He is so quick that the defenders don’t know what he’s going to do next. He’s got all the skills - he’s good with toe touches, kicks, bonus points, has good reach and his counter-action is great.”

Anup, known as the Badshah of bonus points, goes on to add that he sees a version of his younger self in Aslam. “He has played really well so far and if he can continue to play this way then he will become a legend in the future.”

For Aslam, kabaddi is new lease of life, and he’s just getting started.

For more updates, follow Sportstar on :