Bhubaneswar: Despite the recognition V Akash has achieved at the age of 26 as World Champion in Carrom, he remains one of the least known faces in the country as much as in his home state.Akash also has the distinction of being the only person from Odisha to represent the sport on an international level.
Presently working in Reserve Bank of India (RBI) Bhubaneswar, Akash, however feels the support and encouragement he gets from his office is enormous though recognition from the state government is yet to come by.
Speaking exclusively to odishatv.in, the champion opens his heart out to Siddharth Roshan on his experience, aspiration and expectations.
Q: When did you start playing Carrom?
Ans: When I was in Class 6 or 7. Initially, I was fond of cricket, but my family members restricted me from playing outdoor games as I was injured at the drop of a hat. Being a resident of Jatni, I used to frequent railway institute with my uncle, where carrom is very popular. I used to watch the game of state and national champions. Later I got stuck to the game for a lifetime.
Q: Despite being a World Champion at this young age, recognition eludes you.
Ans: You are right.
In Odisha, no one recognizes a carrom player. A few months back, a Carrom tournament called World Champion of Champions was held in Belgium, where my friend from RBI Mumbai had participated and won. He received Rs 70 lakhs from his State Government, and here I am a doubles winner of World Cup and have brought two golds and one bronze in team events, but the Odisha Government would not even be aware.
Q: How many Carrom players are there in Odisha presently?
Ans: There are many, but they do not get patronage. I have a job so there is no problem for me, but a normal player from a middle class family should get some facilities like a scholarship. In Maharashtra, players of 16-17 years of age receive scholarship of Rs 10,000 to 15,000 from companies with effort of the State Government. The scene is exactly opposite in Odisha.
Q: Are there any affiliated or non-affiliated carrom associations in Odisha?
Ans: There are two associations. But I have no particular affiliation to any association. I would like to support all associations that can help the team players to make it to national and international tournaments.
Q: Can anyone make a career in Carrom?
Ans: Definitely! I was earlier engaged with Ministry of Defence through sports quota. Later I resigned and joined RBI Bhubaneswar as it was nearer to my home.
Q: Any tournaments in the offing?
Ans: Ya, am preparing to participate in All India public sector Carrom tournament to be held next month in Pune.