Dabang Delhi’s jersey number 11, Kashiling Adake, looks different from the rest of his teammates. He is tall, well-built, and with long legs that make him an excellent raider, quick to slip out from the opposition half to earn his team some points. His story is extraordinary too.
Not many would have given Adake, 31, a chance to play in the Pro Kabaddi League last year, knowing that he was warming up the benches for corporate giant Mahindra. He was even rejected by SAI when he appeared for the trials to join its Kabaddi team.
“Agli baar mehnat karke aana (Work hard when you come next time),” he was told. Instead, he stayed back and observed the players and learned from them. He was picked for the SAI team the very next year.
But life hasn’t been all that easy for Adake.
“My father, Ram Chandra, was a wrestler. But I was never interested in playing any sport. I was not well built. Bada sukha sa tha (I was quite lean),” he said. However, he did take to Kabaddi while in school . But that came to an end when his father passed away in 2013. The teenager became the sole bread winner of the family .
“I started working in the fields. My father never let my mom work on the fields and I too didn’t want her to work,” said Adake.
But he didn’t stop practicing and even joined one of the nine clubs in his village Kasegaon in Sangli district of Maharashtra. But soon life became even more hectic as he joined a sugarcane factory to earn more money. “I used to get food once in the day, four years I worked like this.” During this period, he earned just Rs 200 for 8 hours of daily work.
However, his dedication forced him to practice the sport. Whenever he took his cattle to the field, he was simultaneously “practicing his skills”.
“One day my uncle Sunil Adake, who used to play for Bharat Petroleum, asked me to come to Mumbai. He wanted me to increase my weight,” said Adake. “My mother to encouraged me to pursue this passion. She told me to go for it. If you do good then it’s okay, if you don’t no problem, she would say,” he added.
In Mumbai, he was selected by SAI in the second attempt. There was a bigger opportunity round the corner.
“Mahindra came to us as they were not able to use their ground as it was water-logged due to rain. They were also short of players and asked me to join in. For 2-3 days, I was on the bench.”
On the third day he made his mark. “The coach was impressed and asked me to play for them on a contract basis,” he said, adding that he was paid Rs 5,500 monthly retainership. A permanent place in the team came a year later.
After a year on the bench he finally got an opportunity. There was no looking back after than point and after a bunch of match-winning performances he ended the season with 24 best player awards.
He turned down a a call from the Railways as he wanted to play for Bharat Petroleum, his uncle’s team. “He had once taunted me for touching his kit,” he says with a wry smile.
The national call followed soon and at the national camp he was spotted by the Pro Kabaddi league scouts. Dabang Delhi offered him Rs 10 lakh and the deal was quickly sealed. “Thanks to the money, I have rebuilt my house which was shattered in heavy rains sometime back. My mother no longer works in the field.”