India’s champion cricketer Yuvraj Singh is truly an inspiration for many people. He put his country first during the ICC Cricket World Cup 2011, the same year when he was diagnosed with the dreaded disease which he later fought bravely and got cured.
He was also named as the Man of the Series during that tournament which was held in the Asian subcontinent.
In an interview with ‘Humans of Bombay’, Yuvraj shared his motivational story. He spoke more about the game of cricket, the way he survived cancer, his cricket career and much more.
“Most of my childhood was spent outdoors – either playing cricket, football, tennis or skating. I wasn’t very good at studies, as soon as the school bell rang, I would be out on the field until dinner time! My tryst with full time cricket began in a funny way — I won the gold medal in only one sport when I was around 10 years old and that was in skating! My father sat me down that day and said, ‘I understand you can’t study but if you love sports so much at least take one that can get you somewhere…focus on cricket.’ That’s how it all started.
Even while growing up there were struggles — I didn’t get selected at the under 14 trials in Haryana, but at every step of the way I pushed harder towards the one goal that I wanted to dedicate my life towards…playing for India. I still remember, my first real ‘job’ was playing for Air India’s corporate team and my stipend for the whole month was 500 Rupees given by Punjab Communications.
The real turning point was the Under 19 World Cup where I performed better than ever before. I remember at that point, I would watch Tendulkar and Ganguly on my television set and know on every fibre of my being that someday I would be out there playing with them— I felt it, I knew it; I believed it. In 2000 I got the opportunity to play my first International game with these big guns. I can’t describe that experience — in my head, I was still the little boy from Chandigarh running around on the field, muddy, breaking windows with my shots but when I looked around I saw my heroes — Tendulkar, Ganguly, Kumble on the field with me.
As I eased into playing with them, they turned into my family. Having always been a prankster, the Indian dressing room was no different for me. On one April Fool’s day, Bhajji and I decided to prank Ganguly. We went down to the business centre and reprinted the front page of the Times of India, with bogus stories of Ganguly saying nasty things about the entire Indian Team. Before the match, we gave him the newspaper and said we were very disappointed. He saw the newspaper and lost his cool. He began to say, ‘if I’ve ever said any of this I’ll resign as the captain’. We let this go on until Dravid decided to tell him it was April’s fools day which made him even more angry — he chased the two of us around the field with a bat in his hand!
Jokes apart, the journey has been tremendous. Whether it was hitting 6 sixes, or winning the 2011 World Cup, these are special moments which very few people in the world have the privilege of experiencing and that’s what I’ve always felt while playing for my country — privileged. Of course, there have been downs as well — one cannot always live upto the expectations where a nation of 1.2 billion people wants you to win every single game.
More than that, nothing could have been worse than having to give up something you love —and I had to get out of the game for many months because of my battle with cancer. At first I was in denial about it — playing for India was more important than my health and for a few months I chose to ignore the blood I spat out or my decline in stamina. It’s only once I accepted cancer that I could beat it. When life knocks down you have a choice — to get up. So I thought to myself -‘get up and do it again’. I came back within 3 months of my treatment, only because I wasn’t done with cricket — I don’t think I’ll ever be done with it.
The way I look at it, I went through cancer so that through my foundation YouWeCan I could do more for those who need it. I believe that I had to go through it to have a larger purpose. God has been kind enough to give me everything and the only way forward is to give back. I’m constantly looking for ways to push this cause and through YWCFashion, I’m looking to enter a different avenue and make the fight against cancer even stronger. Today, I sponsor the entire education of 25 kids who’s parents don’t have the funds. When I met them and they told me about their ambitions, I knew that this is what I want to continue doing— give back and help them make a ‘come back’, just like I did.”