LIKE MANY sportspersons from rural areas whose talent remains untapped, this 18-year-old basketball player, too, would have had to stop playing and take up a menial job to survive. But, a chance selection in a routine Army recruitment rally could have saved his fledgling career.
Subhash Chouhan from Kodariya village of Mhow tehsil, about 25 kilometres from Indore, who is a Class 10 dropout, had represented Indore district in the State championship and Madhya Pradesh in the junior korfball and rugby nationals.
But his poor financial background and constant nagging by his father, a farmer, to stop playing and get some job instead was beginning to tell on Subhash. His father told him that playing would affect his studies and he would not be able to get a job anywhere.
It was then Subhash decided to try for recruitment in the Army. He attended the recruitment rally organised by the Branch Recruitment Office (BRO) at Gorkha Grounds of Mhow (acronym for Military Headquarters of War) last month and was selected as a soldier.
Subhash’s sporting abilities would probably have gone unnoticed had it not been for BRO director Colonel V K Saini. Says Colonel Saini, “I was scrutinising his documents when I noticed that he was a basketball player of state level.
Though Subhash had got the job on his own merit, his being a sportsman is an added qualification, which will stand him in good stead. According to new policy announced by the Army chief, any player having represented the state would be directly appointed a JCO. It is part of the Army’s Mission Olympic Gold programme.”
Subhash had represented Indore district team in the State senior basketball championships held in Balaghat in 2004, Rewa in 2005 and Bhopal in 2006. In Bhopal his team was the runners-up. Subhash, who is 5’10, apart from basketball, also plays korfball and rugby. He represented the State rugby team in the nationals played in November 2005 in Indore and in the national korfball tournament held in June this year in Nashik (Maharashtra).
When this correspondent spoke to Subhash, he was feeling very proud on being selected as soldier and the fact that he could continue to play the game he loves. He said, “I started playing basketball on the advise of family friends at the age of ten.
I had two dreams - of becoming a star basketball player and to become a soldier in the Indian Army. Though I achieved some success in basketball this year, selection into the Army will make my game better, as the Army is an organisation where sportsmen are nurtured. It is here that sportsmen get true recognition,” he said.
MP Basketball Association president Bhagwanti Sharma, who confirmed Subhash’s sporting credentials, however, cautioned that he should take care that his game is not affected by his duties. Subhash, however, says, “Till today I used to play with a fear of uncertainty. But now on, I can play in full spirits.”