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'Breaking stereotypes': Now a mother of 2, former rugby captain Neha Pardeshi returns to play

This National Sports Day, let's remind ourselves of the need of playing the sport. Neha Pardeshi tells her inspiring story of returning to the game after motherhood in her hope of donning the national colours again.

Breaking stereotypes: Now a mother of 2, former rugby captain Neha Pardeshi returns to play

Former captain of the Indian Women's rugby team Neha Pardeshi took a 16-month break around her pregnancy.


Pritish Raj

Updated: 29 Aug 2022 10:19 AM GMT

Sports act as a catalyst for different people in different ways. Sometimes it can be a motivation to never give up, sometimes it can unite and sometimes it is just a way of life.

When the former captain of the Indian Women's rugby team, Neha Pardeshi, took a 16-month break owing to her pregnancy, everybody thought her playing days were over.

Little did they know that she would come back not only to play the sports but also to continue the legacy from where she left off.

Meet Neha Pardeshi, former Indian captain, mother of a pair of twins and an exceptional athlete. She now plays the sport for her motivation to represent the country and break the stereotype that motherhood is a hindrance for a sportsperson.

"There are multiple stereotypes and misconceptions about women athletes in India and one of them is marriage is the end of your career and motherhood means you can never play again. I kept thinking, 'I have to play for India when I come back from pregnancy'," Neha told The Bridge.

"Breaking this misconception that women can't play after motherhood and the motivation to represent my country again made me play the sport again. I was very clear and wanted to get back to the grind as soon as possible," said Neha.

Daily training while caring for two children, Neha Pardeshi always has all bases covered.

Neha, who played multiple sports as a child, started doing judo and skating at an early age. It was 15 when she started playing Rugby seriously with the support of her parents.

"All the sports I have played helped in Rugby. It is a tough game which demands a lot of commitment and skills. All of these things have played a part in my journey as a rugby player," said Neha.

Sports have been a big uniting factor for Neha. It was her family, friends and sporting community which supported her comeback to sports.

"The whole process to getting back in contact sports after motherhood was really tough. There will be days when I was not able to stand up or not move. It was my family, my team without them I am nothing. For me, it is the people and how sports unite them to grow together and keep looking out for each other," exclaimed Neha.

Neha, who captains Delhi in the national circuit, also had a sports company called Beluga Sports.

Talking about donning multiple hats, Neha said, "My whole family has supported me and been there to take care of me whenever needed. Getting back into contact sports like Rugby is tough as there is always a chance of injury. I was a little hesitant earlier but eventually, I pushed myself with the support of everyone around me."

"I coach Adidas global running community and that community has one of the biggest reasons behind my comeback. I have lost weight and become stronger, thanks to this community," explained Neha.

Talking about her future plans, Neha said, "I want to play for as long as I can. The first target is achieved as I am back in the game but the second target is getting in the Indian team again, which I am hopeful about."

"My recovery and coming back to the sport was an active recovery. I started training after 15 days after giving birth to the twins. More than physical, I think it is the mental fortitude which keeps you going in such situations. I want to tell all the mothers out there that you can always do whatever you want and motherhood is not a hindrance," concluded Neha.

From breaking stereotypes to showing the power of community, Neha's story certainly has elements which display the unity in sports.

We proudly present this story to you in association with Myntra's #UnitedInSports campaign on the occasion of National Sports Day.

Share with us how various sporting activities unite to find a balance in your life. Send us your story with a photo on Instagram with #UnitedInSports, and tag @thebridge_in and @myntra

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