No, she has no unsavoury memories of the time she had to sweep her family’s tiny dhaba clean in Jagatsukh, 6 km away from Manali. The memories of sleeping on the cold floor after a hard day’s work don’t disturb her anymore. “Those memories do not sadden me, in fact,No, she has no unsavoury memories of the time she had to sweep her family’s tiny dhaba clean in Jagatsukh, 6 km away from Manali. The memories of sleeping on the cold floor after a hard day’s work don’t disturb her anymore. “Those memories do not sadden me, in fact they ensure I take every day head-on,” says Kavita. “Whenever I am confronted with negativity, I tell myself that I have always been a survivor. That I’ll always be one. Didn’t someone say: what doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger?”Kavita has come a long way from being one of the many girls in Manali who didn’t know where their next meal would come from. Even when she had to sleep on an empty stomach, she seldom complained. She took to kabaddi, for it was the one sport that required the least amount of investment. “It may sound strange, but somewhere in my heart I knew the sport would take me places,” she says.Talk to her about being the poster girl of women’s kabaddi in India and she smiles and says, “But still the state government did not bother to organise a function to honour me, even after we came home with the Asian gold medal in 2014.” The state has given some financial aid since, which came in handy to move her family to a small accommodation near Manali. “But I feel bad for my elder sister, a far better player than me who had to give up the sport to assist my parents at the dhaba,” says Kavita.advertisementShe feels that unless the central and state governments come together to devise a way to spot talent early on, it will be hard to get the gifted ones on board. “Why can’t we have top coaches visiting schools?” she asks. “What stops the government from introducing small scholarships at the school level, and making sports a part of the curriculum? It is easier for the privileged to say that real talent never gets lost. Take my word, I have seen so many gifted players quitting just so that they could earn a living.”She’s glad the Pro Kabaddi League has popularised the sport, giving a financial incentive to players. Kavita, a player with the Fire Birds team in the Women’s Kabaddi Challenge in 2016, says she is looking forward to a long innings. Kavita dreams of getting the Arjuna award someday. But first things first. And that will be avenging India’s shock defeat to Iran at the 2018 Asian Games and putting the country back on top in 2022.