He is the Yuvraj of Indian hockey but unlike his much better known cricketing counterpart, Yuvraj Walmiki’s life wasn’t exactly a bed of roses before the Asian Champions Trophy happened.
From living in a shanty in Marine Lines without electricity all his life to becoming the next big thing in Indian hockey, it has been an arduous journey for the youngster.
The 21-year-old’s home in the compound of Niranjan Housing Society, wore a festive look today with several welcome back placards and was flooded with a throng of visitors - relatives, friends, mediapersons, well-wishers and curious onlookers.
Back home to a hero’s welcome at the domestic airport here this morning after starring in India’s triumph over arch- rivals Pakistan in the Asian Champion’s Trophy final, Yuvraj, whose roots lie in Aligarh district of Uttar Pradesh, was felicitated by the two estranged Thackeray cousins Uddhav and Raj, who champion the cause of ‘Marathi Manoos’
“Everyone has problems. But it is how you handle them that is important. I have never let these affect me when I stepped on the hockey ground. Many people have helped me at various stages,” he told reporters.
He was quick to recall the contributions of his friend Boon D’Souza, who introduced him to hockey, ‘Bawa sir’, who coached him since his early days, and former India skipper Dhanraj Pillay, who after discovering his potential got him a contract with Air India in 2007.