"My childhood and teenage years were very difficult. In winter, we slept in the back of our shop on the floor. It was unbearable since the floor felt like ice."
Today, she is one of the most fierce players in the Indian kabbadi team that is participating in the Asian Games, but until a few years ago, Kavita was helping her parents run a dhaba near Manali, Himachal Pradesh.
Krishna Devi and Prithvi Singh, Kavita’s parents, sell tea and snacks in a small shack near Manali. Kavita and her elder sister, Kalpana would help their parents in every way possible—washing utensils, sweeping floors and doing any other chore required to run the dhaba.
Speaking to the Times of India, Kavita said, “My childhood and teenage years were very difficult. In winter, we slept in the back of our shop on the floor. It was unbearable since the floor felt like ice. We didn’t have any money to buy mattresses. There were days when we didn’t make any money, and all of us went hungry.”
But this would change when Kavita discovered kabaddi.
She started playing the sport as a child in school and decided to take it up professionally, when she became an adult. “I took up kabaddi because it wasn’t a costly sport. In fact, my elder sister was a better kabaddi player than me, but she had to give up her dream of playing the sport at the highest level in order to help my parents at the dhaba,” she said to TOI.
He family supported her passion and encouraged her to continue in the game.
By 2009, her consistency and talent at the national levels were recognised, and she joined the Sports Authority of India, in Dharamshala, Himachal Pradesh.
“At SAI, I concentrated on my game and gave my best.
Soon, I was selected in the national team. My sister and parents always supported me. They wanted me to follow my passion.
I would have never played for the Indian team without their unflinching support,” she told the publication.
From there on, there was no looking back for Kavita. She played in the 2012 Asian Kabaddi championship and helped India secured the first spot in the tournament. The Indian women’s kabaddi team went on to win Gold in 2014 and 2017 too.
This year, she will represent India at the Asian Games as a defender.
Kavita’s contribution to the national team brought her into the spotlight and also resulted in the government taking note of her situation.
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While her parents still work at their dhaba, they have a secure roof above their heads now and live in a rented house in Himachal Pradesh.
“It is Kavita’s hard work and determination that has given us a roof over our heads,” Krishna Devi told the publication, adding that “Some years ago, we couldn’t even think of living anywhere else other than our dhaba. We wish she brings more laurels for the country.”
(Edited by Gayatri Mishra)