Where Sports Set Aflame a Lingering Passion for Adrenaline

Even on a sunny day, Radeesh’s smile lights the room up brighter. A software engineer, Mr. Radeesh Velayudhan has been working in the IT sector for over 15 years. A great narrator, an easy conversationalist and perhaps one of the most pleasant people you could meet! 

Yet, it’s none of these factors that got us to sit down and talk. It was Radeesh’s tryst with sports! 

Though not the fastest runner, he was able to cover long distances at a steady pace. It was his P.T teacher, Gangadharan, who identified this trait and introduced competitive sport to him when he was in 6th standard. And as he puts it – “That’s how the journey started.”

As the youngest sibling, his brothers never let him play cricket with them. “When we were kids, we used to play ‘Terrace Cricket’. They wouldn’t include me in an actual match because I was younger. But that’s around the time I started seeing on the papers and hearing on the radio about Shane Warne and his bowling technique called ‘Flipper’.”

“It intrigued me, I wanted to know what it was and there was a photo of him bowling. I tried to copy his style, and my brothers were mighty impressed with whatever I was doing because they hadn’t seen it before. From then, they started including me and I kept perfecting Warne’s technique. I can’t be him, but I could still try to mimic him, you know what I mean?”

For the next many years, Radeesh was all about sports. From high school till post graduation, he represented his institutions and the district. Volleyball, cricket, athletics – he was there in all. However, once he joined the IT sector, a lifestyle that was filled with action suddenly turned sedentary. 

“It became just sitting, upto 12 or 14 hours a day. This started affecting my health; I put on weight and ended up with a disc problem. This is when I decided I have to get back to playing,” says Radeesh.

At his workplace, there were many factors that separated his colleagues into different groups. One of them was the generation gap. Radeesh, being the talker he is, has always been in all of these groups. And to bring everyone together, he always used sports. 

“I would make plans with these young guys to meet up at 5:30 in the morning at the cricket ground. They always agree enthusiastically, but when the time comes, it’d be only me standing in the middle of the ground all alone.” he says with a tone that suggests this is usual. 

“I’d be alone, get angry, and send a photo to the (WhatsApp) group so they know I’m at the ground as planned. And then I start calling these people one by one. They’d give me all kinds of excuses – partied too much the night before, slept late. After an hour or so, the next person will come, I’d send a photo with both of us. I keep doing this until everyone turns up.” he laughs. 

“Around 7, everyone would’ve come, and we would finish a match. These guys would all get warmed up and in form by then. But I’m a family man and I’ve to tend to other errands after 8. But they wouldn’t let me go. They say, ‘one more game’ and I find it really hard to say no.” he laughs again. 

Same goes with all the places he’s stayed in. Radeesh says he’s like the government; he changes places every 5 years. And even in all the apartment complexes and neighbourhoods he’s stayed in, he’s always been the one bringing everyone together. And his tool has always been sports.

“Even when we’re playing, there will be several others who don’t have enough members. They end up joining us for that match and then turn up for our next game. Like that our groups have become so big. Despite the lockdown coming in between, we still do keep in touch and find time to play together. And I think that’s a very beautiful thing sports make possible”, says Radeesh as he sips his coffee with a confident smile. 

From being sporty, to having a sedentary lifestyle, and coming back to sports, Radeesh is now keeping the balance between dividing his time for work, sports and other chores. 

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Pratheek Suryadev