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"Chasing your dreams is like having a superpower. It automatically fills you with motivation and enthusiasm and you become your biggest pep-talk. The hours that you spend working or the grind that going in as a part of it, you embrace it because you know it’s about the journey and not really the destination.

Kratik Malhotra: Let’s Rely On Miracles

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Kratik Malhotra

Kratik Malhotra: Let’s Rely On Miracles For A Tad Bit

“Chasing your dreams is like having a superpower. It automatically fills you with motivation and enthusiasm and you become your biggest pep-talk. The hours that you spend working or the grind that going in as a part of it, you embrace it because you know it’s about the journey and not really the destination. You tell yourself that I am going to work so hard and enjoy this journey so well to great that it will inspire millions in the future.”

I grew up in a middle-class family and like hundreds of thousands of kids in India, I did my tenth, my 12th, studied hard for the entrance exams, and got myself into engineering. Growing up, my grandfather ingrained the ‘sports ka keeda’ in me. Since I was probably ten, it was what brought the kid out in me. Watching Sourav Ganguly’s India or Sir Alex Ferguson’s Man United gave me a goal. I would sit and wonder, “What would it be like to work in the Premier League? What would it be like to work for the national cricket team?”

A year into pursuing my bachelor’s degree, I knew engineering wasn’t for me but you know, you don’t quit because it’s important to move from success to success. However, I wanted an ‘out’ because I couldn’t see myself working as an engineer in the future. So, I decided on trusting the unknown, giving a shot at chasing my dream, and working my socks off. I felt I could really write and so, knocked on the door of the office of the regional editor of a major Indian newspaper in 2009 and told him that I wanted to write. He was astounded and went, “Excuse me, have you ever written for a website or a magazine?” I said, “No,” to which he responded, “You can start working here as a sports journalist but I wouldn’t be able to pay you.”

I mean, I didn’t want money. I wanted a shot into the sports industry. On my first day, I went to cover the Indian national hockey team. I covered everything that was there to cover, even an international snooker tournament! It was a lot of hours. With engineering, in between college, assignments, social work, and my jobs (yes, I had four jobs at a point), I was working 16-hour days on an average but it was fun. It really was. I had never had such a drive before.

…and then, a miracle happened.

At an event, I met this gentleman named Jackie Shroff, who after hearing that I was still studying engineering, told me told me to go abroad and study sports management instead of journalism. That was it. I had found my path. I looked for ways I could combine engineering with sports. Sports analytics, artificial intelligence, and machine learning was an upcoming field and so, I started looking into them. Out of the blue, I got a call from France in 2010 and this guy offered me a job as a sports analyst to cover Indian football (I-League).

I applied to Florida State University for an MS in Sport Management. Got in. I jetted off to America in December 2011. With the courses I took from the business school, my focus was more analytics. It was scary, you know. I didn’t know anybody who had gone to the United States to study sports and to top it off, the sports in America are so different from the sports played anywhere else in the world. I told myself, “I’ll be that guy who Indian kids follow to dream and pursue a career in sports. I’d be the change and I’ll draw the path for people.”

After my master’s, I got an internship with IMG and a sports scientist and performance analyst. I worked with some of the biggest names in the country – actually, worldwide to be honest. Have you heard of Thierry Henry? I never get starstruck but I had watched him play for Arsenal growing up and when I first met him, I went like, “That’s him.” Such a great guy though. Brilliant person.

Florida State Seminoles football team hired me as a sports scientist and a performance analyst in 2013. We won the national championship. And I became the first Indian passport holder to claim a national championship ring. Eight years on, it’s been a blessing. I have spoken at some of the biggest sports conferences in the world, been mentioned on Forbes, ESPN, Men’s Health, etc., invited to present my work at some of the biggest soccer clubs in the world, and deep down, made my parents proud.

I wake up every morning and somewhere, I am thankful for the gaalis (and You’re wasting your life remarks) I didn’t pay attention to my college professors during engineering days. I knew I was right in chasing my dream. They just awarded me as their ‘Best Ever Alumni’. I guess they are happy too that I didn’t follow the norm. It’s strange how things happen but believe in yourself, believe in God, and know that if you truly ask for, with a clean heart, miracles do happen.

The universe always gives you what you need. Dreams choose you – you don’t choose your dreams. Do you have the courage to follow the dream that’s chosen you? Find your goal, find your purpose, and go. Keep winning.

I don’t believe in miracles, I rely on them.

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