Image Credits: KIUG
Jain University, Karnataka have been on a roll at the Khelo India University Games 2020 here and one of the main reasons for their success is Sahaj Patel.
The Baroda-born player who turns out as their centre is one of the tallest people at the Games, at a towering six feet and nine inches.
Sahaj’s tryst with basketball started quite late in his life, only after he joined college at the age of 18. “Initially, I used to just watch my friends play. My father is a farmer and he wanted me to concentrate on my studies and find myself a good job.
“It has been four years now since I started playing and there has been no looking back. My parents were not happy and did not even agree with me but eventually they understood that it was important to me,” Sahaj explained.
The 24-year-old, however, made sure that he fulfilled his father’s wishes first. He finished his engineering and is now pursuing his Masters in Business at the Jain University.
“I did not play any sport in school, not even one. I was studious because my dad insists you need good education to lead a good life. I ensured and am still ensuring that I don’t neglect that aspect,” he added.
Sahaj caught the eye of national selectors when he represented Gujarat during the Nationals and eventually got a chance to play for India during the SAFF Games. India won the gold medal there and Sahaj was one of the star performers.
“It was a dream come true. I really want to continue representing India. I missed out on the FIBA Games this time around but I really want to try and get into the Indian team next time and become a mainstay player,” the baller said.
On asked how he manages studies and basketball together, Sahaj said, “I allocate enough time for studies. My parents still ask to me to concentrate on studies even though I have achieved so much in basketball. Whenever I’m not training I ensure that I sit with my books. I know nobody is going to pass my exams but me.”
Talking about the Khelo India University Games 2020, Sahaj said, “It is a great initiative by the Government of India. I’m happy that I’m part of the first ever Khelo India University Games. I hope the Government continues to support sportspersons through such initiatives.”