Don't want my dad to drive an autorickshaw anymore: U-17 World Cup player Aniket Jadhav

Updated: Dec 19, 2017, 08:21 IST | Noel D'Souza | Mumbai

Following success in U-17 WC and I-League, Aniket Jadhav is a big star in Kolhapur; his next goal is to convince his father to stop driving an auto

There's no denying that after the historic FIFA U-17 World Cup swept Indian shores in October, life has changed for Kolhapur-born striker Aniket Jadhav, a key member of the host team that won plaudits after giving USA, Colombia and even two-time champions Ghana, a run for their money.

Thanks to Aniket's success on the football ground
Thanks to Aniket's success on the football ground

For Aniket, the son of a rickshaw driver, the U-17 World Cup changed everything. "Yes. It's a different feeling now. Many people recognise me instantly. In Kolhapur, the younger boys look up to me and say that they want to be like Aniket. That gives them motivation to work harder," the 17-year-old player told mid-day.

Father Anil Jadhav can finally take a break from driving his autorickshaw all day
Father Anil Jadhav can finally take a break from driving his autorickshaw all day

Stretching optimism even to the greatest extent, a quarter-final berth for the Indian colts at the global event would have been a little far-fetched, but that didn't take away the fact that the boys did put up a gritty performance that gave fans goosebumps at every stadium India played. "I'm really happy that we got to play in the U-17 World Cup. The tournament gave a boost to the development of football in our country.

Aniket Jadhav is glad he can now support the family, and is trying to persuade his father Anil Jadhav to quit driving his auto rickshaw and retire
Aniket Jadhav is glad he can now support the family, and is trying to persuade his father Anil Jadhav to quit driving his auto rickshaw and retire

My game has improved too, after playing against international players. The exposure was brilliant," recalled Aniket, the only player from Maharashtra in the team. Aniket's game is radically changed. Today, he lets his skill speak for itself on the field. The teenage star netted a brace for Indian Arrows, a team consisting of U-17 and U-19 players, in this season's I-League, as they defeated Chennai City FC 3-0 in their opening encounter in Goa last month. "I have got many chances playing for the Indian Arrows. It feels good to get playing time and I just want to capitalise on it," he said.

In his quest to capitalise on the game time that coach Luis Norton de Matos has given him, there is another situation that Aniket is trying to make the most of.

Golden boots and heart
Hailing from a lower-middle-class background, his father Anil Jadhav was earlier the sole breadwinner of the family of four, supporting his wife, son and daughter with the income from his auto rickshaw. "I told my father to stop driving the auto rickshaw and that I would support the family with whatever money I've earned in the World Cup and my earnings in the I-League. But papa wouldn't listen. Earlier, he used to drive the whole day and return at night, but now he just rides from 4 pm to 7 pm. I'll try and convince him to stop completely," quipped Aniket, who roughly earns about R50,000 a month playing for the Indian Arrows.

Life goals
Today, his parents are proud of his accomplishments, but it wasn't always so. In fact, parental pressure was among the biggest challenged that Aniket had to kick before he could achieve his dream. He resisted all his father's attempts to coax him to quit football. But today, it's just the opposite. "After seeing my abilities, they only tell me to work harder. I am going to give my 100 per cent for the Indian Arrows and ensure the team qualifies. After that, I want to become a professional footballer," Aniket added about his future plans.

For the boy who once left home for football, there is no other way to achieve success than to fight through your challenges. "Just fight them, nothing else," he signed off. The Indian Arrows face Minerva Punjab FC in their third I-League game at the Guru Nanak Stadium in Ludhiana today.

Rs 50k
Aniket's monthly income playing for the Indian Arrows

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