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Accidental volleyball player, Naval petty officer, Calicut Heroes star: Story of teenage sensation Chirag Yadav

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Chennai (Tamil Nadu) | February 19, 2024 9:24:24 PM IST
After completing his school exams in 2016, 16-year-old Chirag Yadav went for a visit to his relatives in Gujarat for a family visit. Little did he know, his life would be turned around in that short visit.

Chirag, who hails from Mahendragarh city in Haryana, would spend his time after school playing volleyball with his friends for fun.

Not having a fit body at the time, Chirag never considered sports as a career option, despite many of his friends and family suggesting he pick volleyball as a professional career. "There is a lot of difference between talking and actually doing it. Success does not come so easily and there is always a lot of struggle involved, especially in sports," he said, after earning the 'Game Changer of the Award' for the Calicut Heroes, following their big win over the Kochi Blue Spikers in the third season of the Prime Volleyball League.

While spending time in Gujarat with his relatives, Chirag was finally convinced to give volleyball trials at an academy. But not thinking about it too much, he went back to Haryana and got admission to a college. "Later, I found out that I was selected, so I went there, and that is how my journey in the sport began. It was purely accidental."

The initial months at the training camp were not easy for Chirag. He found it hard to stick to the rigorous training regime and almost quit. "Within two months, I felt I could not do this and almost went back. I received motivation from my fellow team players to stay strong and stick around, as they recognised my skills. After a year, I became used to the regime and started enjoying the sport."

The biggest support Chirag received was from his family. His father, who worked as a conductor in Haryana Roadways, did not stop him from following the path of sport, and kept encouraging him to pursue the sport, instead of worrying too much about his studies.

"I was an average student. But at no point was I told by my parents and family that I needed to stop focusing on the sport and they remain my biggest source of support to this date. They also paid for my expenses whenever I would need to travel to train or for competitions, and I was also able to earn some money while playing for different clubs."

Soon, Chirag went on to join the Junior Indian Volleyball Team and lead the team as captain in 2018. A year later, he led his U23 team to a silver medal win in the Asian Championships and then went on to compete at the Senior Indian Asian Championships in Japan.

In 2022, he played in the Asian Challenger Cup in Taiwan. Playing for different clubs, Chirag has travelled across Malaysia, Dubai, and Taiwan in his career so far. With four international senior India caps to his name so far, the 23-year-old is seen as the future of Indian volleyball.

"It is hard to believe that you could achieve so many things in your career. I never imagined I would reach this level," he says.

Chirag, who joined the Indian Navy in 2019, currently holds the position of petty officer and also plays for the Indian Services Team. In his free time, Chirag likes to play ludo with his friends and binge-watch movies and TV shows, with 'Stranger Things' and 'Vikings' being his two favourite pastimes. "I also watch Bollywood movies, and recently enjoyed the movie 'Fighter' which featured Hrithik Roshan, the brand ambassador of the league this season," he said.

The Haryana attacker was a part of the Calicut Heroes in the previous edition of the league but did not get a chance to play. But this year, in his first game in the league itself, Chirag dominated the play with his beautiful pike attacks, and helped Calicut win their first game.

"This was the first time I played in the league. Our team had great practice sessions. There is a great bond among all of us, and we enjoy and tease each other and have fun. It reflected on the field and we were all able to help each other. Now we hope to continue the momentum," he signed off. (ANI)

 
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