The Covid pandemic may have kept Rashmi Gudia off cricket, but the 22-year-old is using her time to help her elderly father by collecting wood from a forest in Odisha, which the family uses for the purpose of cooking and selling.
Gudia, who led the Jharkhand under-23 women’s cricket team in the BCCI tournaments last season, lives with her family in Bolani town in Keonjhar district of Odisha.
“Watching my father walk alone to collect wood from the forest pains me a lot, so I decided to join him. We walk 20 km to and fro for the wood early in the morning as we don’t have any vehicle,” the wicketkeeper-batswoman said, adding that she also finds time to shadow practice and do fitness drills at home.
Speaking to The Telegraph Online on phone from Bolani, she said collecting wood was a tough job but she feels proud helping her father.
“Finding and collecting wood is a tiresome job. Moreover, we have to bear the load of logs while bringing them home. In a way, walking 20km also somewhat helps me in maintaining my fitness. I cover some distance to the forest by jogging. I do shadow practice and use a borrowed Thera band for stretching exercises. Cricket will start once the Covid-related situation improves,” the tribal woman said.
Gudia turned to Jharkhand when she was not selected in the Odisha under-19 team in 2013.
“My coach advised me to try my luck in Jharkhand. I was lucky to get selected in the Jharkhand colt side. I also went on to captain the state under-19 side and the under-23 outfit. I want to make a career out of cricket,” she added.
Gudia’s family faces hardship in making ends meet.
Her elder brother Sunil has recently found a job, providing some economic relief.
Gudia’s father Niran is an elderly man while her mother Khushmaro is a homemaker.
Gudia, who studied up to class VIII from a government school in Bolani, said her brother asked her not to collect wood anymore since he has now found a job.
“But I cannot stop helping my father. I think it is my responsibility as a daughter to lend a helping hand. In fact, it makes me feel proud,” she added.
Guria said she has saved some money, which she earned as match fees for representing Jharkhand in BCCI tournaments.
“But most of my savings are exhausted now. I am eagerly waiting for the new season to start,” said the talented cricketer, with good reflexes and swift body movement, a key feature for a stumper.