Growing up in the alleys of Vasai, in suburban Mumbai, Swapnil Patil was driven by his father-and-coach, Prakash’s, motto, “kuch bada kar ke dikha (achieve something big)”.
Like many other children, Swapnil went on to play for the Mumbai U-14, U-16 and U-19 teams. It was here that he came in contact with Vilas Godbole, who had coached Sanjay Manjrekar and Kiran More.
Climbing the ladder, Swapnil thought he would break into Mumbai Ranji team, but he couldn’t make it beyond the probables from 2003-2005.
One one hand, Swapnil dreamt of playing for the country, on the other, he was hit by introspection. Just when the dream of playing in a World Cup appeared to be crumbling, Swapnil found hope in the UAE.
“I realised I needed to do something, competition in the Mumbai team was making me restless. I thought why not go to some other country. I took up a job with a construction company in Dubai,” said Swapnil, who arrived in the alien land as a 21-year old, leaving behind a family of four.
A wicketkeeper and middle-order bat, Swapnil soon made a name at the club circuit in Dubai, but had to wait for four years to qualify to play for the UAE. In 2010, he was picked to play against Bermuda, and he knew that his dream was close to being fulfilled.
Striking a balance between cricket and earning a livelihood, Swapnil’s day of reckoning came at the ICC World Cup qualifier in New Zealand when UAE beat Namibia by 36 runs earlier this year. The result helped them qualify for the 2015 World Cup in Australia and New Zealand.
“It is unbelievable. I am going to represent a country in a World Cup. The sacrifices I made have been worth it and now mean a lot. My father is proud of me, I have lived up to his motto ‘kuch kar dikhana hai’,” he said with a lump in the throat.