Pune, Aug 10: Vijay Hajare - son of shop owner from Kolhapur, who has been named Captain of Mumbai Khiladis for the inaugural season of Ultimate Kho Kho, took a moment to reflect on his personal journey and spoke about the team's ambitions for the tournament.
"I can't explain it in words about how I feel to be leading Mumbai Khiladis in the first very first season of Ultimate Kho Kho. My mother used to play Kho Kho, but she couldn't pursue it as a carer because of limitations during her time. I want to fulfil her dream and play Kho Kho at the highest level. I will ensure she enjoys my game as if she is on the mat," Vijay expressed.
The 26-year-old, who works for Railways further added," It's been a tough journey, my father owns a Paan shop, so there were financial challenges. But, my family has always supported me, and because of them, I am here today. I am happy that I am able to support my father and family by following my passion."
Speaking about the team atmosphere ahead of the tournament, which starts from the 14th August, Vijay said, "Team is building in a very good and progressive way. As a captain, I speak to everyone and try to understand the challenges they are facing regarding the sport. The bonding between the team is really good and we will leave no stone unturned to go out there and give our best."
Speaking about the experience of training under Head Coach Rajendra Sapte and Assistant Coach Shobhi R, Vijay said, "I believe our Head Coach Rajendra Sapte sir and Assistant Coach Shobhi sir are focused on improving the players on the technical front as well as on the various combinations. They ensure that the players understand their roles during the game and also make sure that we follow up the combinations repeatedly during the training. They make sure we aren't facing any difficulties off the field as well. So, it's been a great experience for all of us so far."
He also spoke about how the team owners Punit Balan, Janhavi Dhariwal Balan and Bollywood Rapper Badshah are supporting the players.
"Punit Sir being a sports enthusiast, takes the real-time updates regarding the team. He ensures we are happy as well as we are improving. Our owners Punit Sir, Badshah and Janhavi ma'am and our CEO, Madhukar sir, all of them are ensuring that the sport of Kho Kho reaches to maximum players in the country. Our school outreach program was our first initiative and we felt really good leading that training session in Pune," Vijay concluded.
Mumbai Khiladis will take on Gujarat Giants in the season opener on 14 August at the Balewadi Stadium in Pune.