Meet former Maharashtra hockey player Prashant Maruti Paigude handing out free bananas to budding players at his fruit stall

He is one of those who have not found the right foot for talent to change their lives. However, his determination to make the most of what he has changed his lifestyle for good – in his own way.

Meet Prashant Maruti Paigude, a former national hockey player from Pune who failed to achieve a high note in the sport, and who is now one of the few handcarts selling fruit on the bustling Nehrunagar Street in Pimpri.

Nehrunagar resident Pimpri, Paigude, 35, was the first player from the region to attend the Indian Junior Camp in 2004-05, in Jalandhar. He then donned the colors of Maharashtra for 10 years, dreaming of a stable job, but it remained a mere dream.

And to support the parents, mother and blind dad, Paigude, who retired from hockey in 2008, pushes the cart with the hands that once wielded the hockey stick, selling bananas to support her daily needs.

“It has been a difficult time, especially during the pandemic,” explains Paigude. “My father is blind and my mother works in the neighborhood. “

Hockey has taught him not to give up no matter how hard the weather is. “Playing hockey has always helped me think positively and look for the positive side of life,” he explains when asked what he thinks about his current situation.

Conscious of the responsibility of taking care of his parents and his financial situation, Paigude remained single.

“Yes, I have to take care of my parents and that’s the reason why I’m not getting married. I’m happy. I’m sure I’ll also get some help when I’m old like my parents are now. But, for now, I want my parents to be happy.

Pune was once known as the breeding ground for Indian hockey. The city has produced Indian hockey legends such as Major Dhyanchand, Dhanraj Pillay, and Vikram Pillay.

And this city also has many hockey players like Paigude, who are now struggling to make ends meet. While some had odd jobs like ward boys in hospitals or office boys, Paigude just had to pick up the handcart.

The striker may have stopped playing, but he’s still logged in as he gives free bananas to aspiring players who come to play on the new grass at Pimpri Stadium.

“It’s one thing I can give back to the game that I love, but I don’t get anything back,” said Paigude, as he watched the senior men’s national game final on Tuesday.

His day begins before sunrise as he rushes to Pimpri / Bhosari wholesale market and even Pune market to buy fruit to sell in town.

“I remember the good old days when I got up early to play, but today I have to get up for another reason,” he says.

And with this twin town of Pimpri-Chinchwad near Pune in Maharashtra trying to get this game back on track, Paigude and others are hoping for a new horizon for budding gamers picking up this game.

(To receive our E-paper on WhatsApp daily, please Click here. We allow sharing of the article’s PDF on WhatsApp and other social media platforms.)

Posted on: Thursday December 23rd 2021 9:52 AM IST

Catherine J. Martinez