Priya Punia – A Story of Hope and Bravery
India, in its recent past, has witnessed iconic revolutions like women empowerment and gender equality in all the aspects of life. From industrial work to sports, numerous people have lifted this notion and changed the ideology of society regarding men as the only superior. And one of such faces is from our budding women’s national cricket team, Priya Punia.
Born in Rajasthan, to a middle-class family, Priya had always possessed the dedication towards cricket and the desire of representing the nation. Despite having faced financial problems and demotivation from society, her family always inspired her to look forward and become the brave person she is today.
Priya was born on August 06, 1996, when her father had the job of a head clerk in the Indian Survey Department, Jaipur. Her mother is a homemaker.
Although Priya had a keen interest in badminton when she was young, her inclinations changed soon, and she became a part of Surana Academy of Cricket in Rajasthan, at a mere age of nine.
A GIRL’S SUCCESS, A FATHER’S DREAM
Priya’s success is a dream seen not only by her but her entire family, especially her father, Mr Surendra Punia. He wanted to play for the country, but things didn’t work out, unfortunately. But his spirits were not extinguished by the failures.
Back in 2016, when Priya made her mind to get enrolled in a cricket academy in Jaipur, she had to face discrimination regarding her gender and was mocked upon by the coach. A question was raised on her efforts to do something which was “manly” and out of her physical strength.
Keeping her self-respect and determination high, she, later on, refused to join the institution.
When her father saw the same zest and talent in his daughter, which he had once, he decided to train her for everything he couldn’t accomplish.
In doing so, he sold his estate, and availed loans to buy a plot worth of INR 22 lakhs, only for training his daughter on a proper pitch, with a practising net! Such dedication towards his child demonstrates the unconditional affection for her and her dreams.
He had to go to absurd lengths to build an undefeatable spirit in her daughter. When the groundsman refused to prepare the pitch unless he was paid INR 1 lakh, Mr Surendra Punia decided to complete this task by his own hands, too. He toiled hard to set the pitch and as of today, spends INR 15,000 to maintain it.
THE GIRL WHO MAKES HER WAY
Priya, as pointed before, is a girl of high self-esteem and respects her existence and efforts. Her personality reflects her ethics and high morals. So when she was offered an opportunity to make it up to the top 11 in the women’s cricket team not based on her talent, worth and hard work but recommendations, she stepped back.
For her, satisfaction and happiness lie in getting a recognition based on not recommendations, but on getting assessed for your talents, step by step.
CAREER AND INTERNATIONAL DEBUT
When she was in Delhi, she was coached by Rajkumar Sharma (the same person who coached Virat Kohli) for seven years.
She started her domestic career by playing in Delhi women’s cricket team against Hyderabad in 2016. In an ODC hosted in Bangalore, she managed to hit a total of 407 runs, out of 8 matches. Because of her splendid performance in domestic cricket, she grabbed a place in the national cricket team of women and made her international debut against Australia in Mumbai.
She left a mark by scoring 75 runs not out on 165 balls in the ODI series against South Africa, where she was called as a replacement for Smriti Mandhana, who got injured. Priya, in the end, was awarded the title of player of the match.
Priya Punia has not only paved a path to her success but has also guided many other women to write their own stories and leave a mark on this world. With such a supporting family to catch her whenever she falls, there’s no way one can’t turn their dreams into reality.