“I have a dream. A dream of representing my country in the Olympics”, says Vinod Kumar. But his dreams were not always this big, his paths not always this clear. The elder son of a family of four, Vinod’s world was separate from his parents his younger brother from a very young age. He was always overlooked in favour of his younger brother. Vinod’s mother never tried to conceal her dislike for him and considered him the cause of all the trouble in the family. He had been put in a hostel at a very young age and only got to know his parents when he was sent back home at the age of 6. Once home, Vinod had to bear the weight of his parents’ prejudice. Finally, unable to bear the treatment meted out in the house, Vinod left home and walked away from the humiliation and maltreatment. He walked aimlessly till he reached Majestic railway station which was to become his home and school for the next couple of months.
“One day when I was sitting at the bus stand, I met a person I knew and he dropped me off at a place in Gandhinagar. It was called BOSCO Yuvodaya. That was in the year 2000. There were many boys like me there. Over there we would be given food in the morning and then all the boys would part ways. Many of them would gladly take refuge in the addictive habits of the streets. Some boys would work as cobblers and shoe-shines. Soon I too started doing the same. Sometimes I would sit near temples or in front of cinema halls and beg. I would eat whatever I managed to collect. But in the evening, I would go back to BOSCO Yuvodaya, and we would all get warm food there”, he reminisces. Then one day, a question changed his entire life.
One day Fr Kuriakose from BOSCO asked little Vinod if he wanted to study. Vinod eagerly responded that he would love to study. That was his first step towards a new beginning. Vinod restarted his education in BOSCO Ajjanahalli and the years spent there changed the course and trajectory of his life. He started taking an active interest in sports. “I learnt so many things in the years I stayed there”, he says. “I learnt to speak English. I started playing football, volleyball and basketball. I would also take part in dance, drawing, athletics, and quiz competitions. While I was in high school, I used to go to district level football matches. All the fathers, brothers and staff members used to support and encourage me a lot. It was his school years that helped him discover his talent and passion for sports. He completed SSLC, and standing at the cross-road of his life he decided he wanted to go home to his parents one more time before he started the next phase of his life.
In 2014, Vinod left BOSCO and decided to try life on his own. He started playing floor ball and he instinctively knew that he had found his niche. He has been a consistent and integral part of the Karnataka Seniors Floorball team and participated in four national tournaments. Vinod was part of this team which won several championships at the national level. Vinod received a gold medal and was chosen for the best defender award at the national floorball championship 2016.
Vinod’s journey has not been without its share of hurdles and difficulties. “I started working in different places including Swiggy and Zomato to meet my expenses. I still work in ‘Dream a Dream’, an NGO as a life-skills trainer.” He says that one of the best moments of his life was when he represented India in Floorball at the Asia Cup in Bangkok. “Hard work and persistence are the keys to achieving success”, says Vinod.