Devendra Surve’s remarkable journey from football to kayaking has not only brought him recognition but also earned him the prestigious Maharashtra Shiv Chhatrapati State Sports Award for Canoeing and Kayaking in 2021-22. Surve’s switch from team sports to individual events like canoeing and kayaking in 2008 proved to be a pivotal decision in his sporting career.
Devendra Surve, a state-level football player at the time, stumbled upon kayaking while attending swimming classes over a decade ago. From the very beginning, Surve’s transition into kayaking was marked by determination and success. Within a year, he achieved excellence by clinching the state-level sub-junior championship title.
Surve’s sporting lineage can be traced back to his grandfather, Shantaram Surve, who was a basketball player. This family connection served as motivation for Devendra to pursue a career in sports. Prior to committing to canoeing and kayaking professionally, the young Surve experimented with various sports such as football, basketball, handball, and more until the age of 14. However, he realized that there was limited potential in individual sports. Speaking on the subject, he noted the changing landscape of sports in India, with athletes like Neeraj Chopra inspiring more individuals to explore individual sports.
Devendra Surve’s Transition from Football to Kayaking Leads to Maharashtra State Sports Award Triumph
Financially, pursuing kayaking was not burdensome for Surve, as he received training at the government-sponsored Thergaon Boat Club in Pimpri Chinchwad. Surve emphasized that the monthly fee for training at this facility is a reasonable Rs 1,000, and once an athlete reaches the national level, training and equipment are provided free of charge. The Thergaon Boat Club, established in 2007, was a commendable initiative by the Pimpri Chinchwad Municipal Corporation (PCMC) to promote water sports in the region.
However, Surve pointed out a significant challenge in the kayaking scene in Maharashtra: the lack of clubs with equipment and facilities meeting international standards. He noted the fierce competition faced by local athletes who have to contend with limited resources. Many successful kayakers and canoeists in the region have military backgrounds, often hailing from the Army or Navy, making it a challenging endeavor for those without such connections.
Despite these challenges, Surve expressed how kayaking has provided him with a distinct identity. He remains unwavering in his determination to seize every opportunity to win medals for his country. His ultimate goal is to represent India in the Asian Games, further solidifying his commitment to excelling in the world of kayaking.