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Mumbai: Armed with three sports, Neelam now takes on rugby

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India's Neelam Patil poses for a picture outside CST station yesterday. Pic/Atul Kamble
India’s Neelam Patil poses for a picture outside CST station yesterday. Pic/Atul Kamble

The Indian women’s Rugby team are all set to compete in the Asia U-20 Girls Rugby 7s Championship in Hong Kong on August 4 and 5. Among the 12-member squad is Neelam Patil, whose versatility in excelling in three different sports helped her bag a place in the side.

The Kolhapur-born athlete, who represented Maharashtra in athletics, wrestling and kabaddi, now wants to give her heart to rugby.

“I like rugby because I get to tackle players. Rugby is a mix of kabaddi, wrestling and athletics. Athletics helped me with my running, while kabaddi and wrestling improved my tackling and strength,” Neelam told mid-day on the sidelines of the team’s announcement at Mumbai Press Club yesterday.

Neelam also turned down an offer from Pro Kabaddi League this year to play rugby.

“I missed out on the rugby tour to Laos last year as I didn’t have a passport. It was heartbreaking. I couldn’t believe I missed out on a big opportunity due to such a reason,” Neelam said. She also wants to become an inspiration for other girls. “Earlier, my family did not approve of me playing rugby because the game is very physical. But after seeing my success, they have accepted it,” Neelam said.

Rugby is normally associated with boys, but Neelam wants to break the stereotype. “Many people used to ask me as to why I was playing a game meant for boys. I always told them that it’s not necessary that boys should play all the sports. Even girls are equally successful in the same sport,” she explained.

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