Nana Patekar makes rare public appearances, but when he does, it’s for a cause. On Saturday, the actor was seen at the Nehru Stadium where he had come to watch a cricket match between the Doru XI and Pune XI women’s cricket teams. He also interacted with the young girls from Jammu & Kashmir who were on a tour of Pune and Mumbai, organised by the city-based Aseem Foundation and the Indian Army’s 19 RR (Rashtriya Rifles) Battalion, and played various exhibition matches here.
Speaking to us Nana said, “It’s very good to see these youngsters determined to overcome odds and excel at what they do. Back in their hometown, they don’t have a lot of facilities, but they are sincere and willing to go the extra mile for their passion for sports.”
The Natsamrat actor recalled the time he was in Kupwara and they had a friendly match between the army and the locals there. “The area we were in was surrounded by a forest and was a hotbed of insurgency activity. So, the boundary line was made up of light machine guns pointing towards the forest, and we were playing a match in the middle of this formation,” he shared, adding, “I think sports have the power to unite people. Even two rival groups from our gullies, when they come together to play, they forget rivalries and play together as a team. And I think the more exposure these girls get; the better it is for them. Such tours need to be regularly done.”
On a parting note, the actor shared that he has had a talk with the girls and if anyone of them is willing to pursue education or coaching in Pune, he will help them with it. He shared how one of the girls from the Doru-based team told him that she travels four hours from home to reach the cricket ground for a one-hour practice session. “When MS Dhoni burst onto the international cricket scene, no one expected that a lad from Ranchi could do this. But he did it purely on the basis of dedication and hard work. These young girls have the potential too. Now, we need to do our best to provide them with facilities. I will try my best to do this for them in Jammu & Kashmir Additionally, I have told the girls that if any of them wants to study in Pune, or come here for cricket coaching, I will be their local guardian and arrange for the same,” Nana said.