Respected Chairman, Principal, Vice Principal, my teachers (my Gurus who have helped me shape my life), respected staff, respected Kaka’s and Maushi’s and my dear young leaders of Vikhe Patil Memorial School.
Of all the 12 years that I have invested in VPMS, it was my dream that someday, I would reach here, at this prestigious dais of my school and talk to all of you. I always dreamt that I would make my teachers proud, and inspire you with my actions and achievements. And today I strongly believe that DREAMS DO COME TRUE! But for all of that to happen, it is very important to DREAM first.
My journey to this dais, began nowhere close to this dais. It was somewhere at the back where I wouldn’t be seen. I was an example of the now famous term back bencher. In my 5th Grade, I was told by Ravi Sir to try my hands at individual sport rather than football which was a team sport.
Agreeing to that my parents enrolled me with a badminton hall which was close to my house. Years passed. I was improving but not winning. My coach back then blamed it on my poor technique, and claimed that I can never pursue badminton at competitive levels. I believed in myself and my capabilities, and my parents supported me. They moved me to a badminton club in Pune. I developed passion for the sport; I put my 100% and voila within a few years I started winning. My coach, parents and I worked very hard for several years. And finally in the 10th Grade I was awarded one of the most prestigious sports awards of VPMS – “THE SPORTSBOY OF THE YEAR.”
Just like most of us, my journey so far has not been very easy. I have learnt my way through several ups and downs and hardships. And all along this journey, my school VPMS, my teachers and gurus, and my parents and friends have been extremely supportive and encouraging.
I have found my purpose in life through sports. I have learnt that you may not become a champion, you may not become successful, but it is important that you become a sportsman. Sports means you’re willing to win, you’re willing to lose; you’re wanting to win but willing to lose. Whether you actually play a sport or not is not an important thing but you must become a sportsman in life. Life is very similar to sports. A sport teaches you to play by the rules. If you don’t follow those rules, you are out of the game. In life too, you ought to follow certain rules. A simple example would be to drive responsibly on the right side of the road. Yet, we see a lot of people driving and riding on the wrong side. This could be hazardous. And there are various other examples in life, wherein we must follow rules. And sports build that maturity in you to follow the rules.
Sports teach you discipline. There were times when I felt I should quit, imagine training for 8 hours in a day for 6 days in a week, you come to a point where your body faces complete soreness, it is at that point where mental strength comes into test. So, sports build you into a stronger person physically and mentally, it makes you do the right thing, even though you may not want to do it. In life too, there might be so many distractions. For parents sitting here, you know how distracting mobile phones could be for your children. And dear children, you know how interesting the mobile phones could be. This reminds me, of the time when I was a junior and training in Hyderabad where we weren’t allowed to use any phones at all for a year or so, all of us could train and recover very fast because NO PHONES gave us time to rest, time to think hence I believe doing the right thing is more important than doing what is just interesting.
One of the key lessons that sports has taught me is to have the determination to win; and to stay grounded and humble, when you win. But when you don’t win, it taught me to accept defeat gracefully. I still remember Ashok Sir’s words “We as sportsmen should always be down-to-earth.” I have always tried to inculcate this through-out my journey in sports and social work.
I think in life too, when we are successful, it is important to remember those who helped us during our bad times, and be thankful towards them and others.
Sports teach you to break your comfort zone. Sometimes in spite of your best game, the opponent might strike you down. You feel you are facing your limits. But, the only option you have now is to break the wall, break the barrier and grow beyond yourself.
All these are basic lessons that sports teaches you. I am very happy that my parents never told me what to do with my life. Since the age of 12 years, they exposed me to several opportunities and allowed me to explore my purpose. I got a chance to visit the tribes of Jawar and to stay with them for quite a few days. Looking at the hardships and the rich culture of the tribes. It inspired me to do something for the young tribal boys and girls my age. I shared my idea of collecting old clothes and toys with friends in school and this is how Our NGO TRIBUS was formed. I thank VPMS for giving us great opportunities and being one of the largest clothes donors to our organization. Today we not only donate clothes, but also have one to one interaction with the school children there. We also conduct health awareness programme & teach them life leadership. I have noticed that every child has a special talent. And one must encourage their talents. I was never good at academics which is why my mother always hesitated to come to my report days because she knew with the kind of chap I was, there were always complaints inline- today my mother is here and she is proud to see me here. Academics are an important part of life. To recall when I started getting better at academics was when I also started performing well in sports. This balance of sports and academics has built good amount of focus in me. My parents always told me that your sister is going to follow your footsteps My younger sister, Sanjana, who is also studying in VPMS and is already an international medalist. I believe I can be a role model, not just for her, but for the entire nation, one day.
I have taken up every sport that was made available at VPMS. I am fortunate that I studied here in VPMS and it has a motto of “Harmony of Body & Mind”. This school encourages sports as much as it encourages academics. Sometimes you can try just sitting on this ground here, closing your eyes and absorbing all the positivity that it has. I believe that the structure in which the school functions, the aura and the atmosphere here is meant to create great leaders of tomorrow. The various club activities, sports day, the debates, inter house games, all of this is structured to create and build character, it gives students an opportunity to realize their talents. You have the house assemblies so that you know what is team work and camaraderie. With the various activities you unknowingly learn what is known by life leadership, which you are obviously going to need in your life ahead.
Our school has a great legacy and we don’t need to take motivation and inspiration from outside.
These walls and the ground have produced great leaders like Aniket Sathe, Sarvesh Navande, Neel Deshpande and also world class sportsmen like Arjun Kadhe, Viraj Dhokale, Saloni Sapale, and many more. I see many schools across the globe and I always happen to compare them with VPMS. I find myself so lucky to have graduated from VPMS. I wish I had realized this way earlier when I was in school.
We are born and brought up in such a great country such a powerful nation. Being a part of such a great nation I think it is our responsibility to do something great for our Bharat Mata. it is my dream to be a role model not just in sports but also in real life for my nation. I aspire to join the INDIAN ARMY which has the motto of “Service Before Self”. I believe in the term “Balidaan Param Dharma” which means sacrifice is the only religion.
Spiderman said “With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility” it is high time we realize this and start contributing to the nation, to the environment in some or the other way. A great nation is not going to happen without the creation of great people. Sportsmanship, playing by the rules, and the desire to win and losing gracefully these are ingredients which makes a great citizen.
From a student who was hardly able to focus in class to signing autographs and attending press conferences across the globe, This Institution has always stood there with me and in the future too it will. Thanks to the teachers who never gave up on me and always supported me in what I was doing.
With this I wish all my young buddies best of luck for their further endeavours and thank Vikhe Patil Memorial School for Inviting me here. It has been the greatest honour to be here.
With all due respect I would love to come back here again in the olive green INDIAN ARMY uniform.