The right friends turned Kabaddi player’s life around – with help from Surrey’s Kids Play

Abbotsford's Austin Batra ditched the ‘wrong crowd’ and is urging troubled youth to follow his example and chase their dreams

Austin Batra wants to be a role model for troubled South Asian youth after turning his life around with the help of Surrey-based Kids Play Foundation.

SURREY — If anyone can attest to the truth behind the old adage,“It’s difficult to soar with the eagles, when you’re scratching with the turkeys,” it’s Austin Batra.

These days, the 21-year-old former national wrestling champion is working hard to be a role model for South Asian youth as he tears up Kabaddi tournaments throughout the Lower Mainland and prepares for a bright future as a pro MMA fighter.

But a few years ago, it looked like Batra’s life was going nowhere.

In fact, “scratching with turkeys” almost derailed his athletic career before it even began.

ABOVE: Austin Batra wants to be the face of Kabaddi and inspire troubled youth in the South Asian community.

“I started hanging out with the wrong crowd,” he said from his Abbotsford home.

“When I was a teen, I wanted to be a cool kid so I started hanging out with the cool kids. Months go by and my attitude started to change, things were bad at home, I’m punching holes in the walls and stuff. It wasn’t a good time.

“But that’s when I met Kal.”

Recognizing his son’s downward spiral, Batra’s father introduced him to Kal Dosanjh, founder and chief executive officer of Kids Play Foundation, a Surrey-based youth organization that uses sports to keep kids away from drugs and gangs.

About Kids Play Foundation: Kids Play is a Surrey-based non-profit organization that organizes sports tournaments, conferences, and other projects to keep the youth away from the lifestyle of drugs, gangs and violence. To contact Kids Play, visitkidsplayfoundation.com.

“I told him I fell into the wrong crowd and he said, ‘Don’t worry. I’ll take care of you,’” Batra said. “He made me learn how to harness my negative energy and fulfill my goals.”

Two years later, in 2013, Batra went on to win a national wrestling championship.

“It was always my vision to become a champion but things were going downhill,” Batra said. “But to set my goal and achieve it, it was the best feeling in the world.”

As proud as he is of that achievement, Batra is Quick to credit Dosanjh and Kids Play Foundation for helping him turn his life around and focus on his passion for wrestling.

“He didn’t give up on me,” Batra said. “I want to thank Kal for not only being a mentor in my life but like a big brother to me as well. He saw something in me and I love him to death.”

ABOVE: Kal Dosanjh is founder and CEO of Kids Play Foundation.

Dosanjh, a police detective who spent more than 15 years as a patrol officer, said he was fortunate to connect with Batra  before the lure of gangs, drugs and money consumed him.

“We pulled him out at the right time,” said Dosanjh, who ran for Surrey city council in 2014. “This kid’s doing phenomenal now.”

Dosanjh said Kids Play success stories like Batra’s keeps him going.

“It’s a fantastic feeling,” he said. “It is truly satisfying. You see a lot of these kids we connect with at Kids Play and we know we can make a difference – we can see it.

“We’re here for them if they ever need us. It feels good. It’s an absolutely awesome experience.”

beau.simpson@thenownewspaper.com

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Surrey shares in ‘Sonic the Hedgehog’ movie success

Jim Carrey among actors in scenes filmed at Joe Brown Park in 2018

Surrey mom to plead guilty in U.S. college admissions scheme

According to charging documents, Xiaoning Sui paid $400,000 to a sham charity to have her son admitted at UCLA

Surrey councillor claims Fleetwood residents caught ‘off guard’ by corporate report

Council approved area plan boundary for Fleetwood that left many “scrambling” to understand, Pettigrew says

Elderly White Rock assault victim upgraded to stable condition

Incident occurred Feb. 19 in the city’s Five Corners district

Guildford’s Winter Festival raises nearly $7K for Surrey Memorial Hospital

Funds raised through two weekends of skate rentals, on-site donations

VIDEO: B.C. senior recalls ‘crazy’ wartime decision to grab bear cub from den

Henry Martens – now 96 – says he was lucky to be alive after youthful decision to enter a bear’s den

RCMP clarifies stance on removing officers from Wet’suwet’en territory in northern B.C.

Police say will remove officers only if hereditary chiefs keep road open to pipeline workers

Youth-led report calls on B.C. government to create plan to end youth homelessness

There are no dedicated programs for youth homelessness at federal, provincial level, report says

Abbotsford mosque gets online hate for exhibit on Jesus

Event meant to bring community together gets attacked teaching religous differences

Petition slams Victoria councillor who chastised police after Wetsuweten protest

Ben Isitt calls effort to get him suspended is not a ‘reliable barometer of public opinion’

B.C., Ottawa sign sweeping 30-year deal for northern caribou habitat

West Moberly, Saulteau co-manage new protection on two million acres

PHOTOS: 2020 BC Winter Games kick off in Fort St. John

More than 1,000 of B.C.’s best athletes will be competing over the next three days

Meet the Wet’suwet’en who want the Coastal GasLink pipeline

Supporters of the pipeline are upset only one side is being heard nationwide

‘Usain Bolt he was not’: B.C. gang police seize drugs, cash after foot chase

‘The man took off running when he saw our officers approaching,’ CFSEU BC says

Most Read