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

Thousands of ‘PPE’ donated in Surrey, where one care home is ‘preparing for the worst’

SafeCare BC’s Operation Protect drive involves drop-off dates in Guildford

White Rock announces more COVID-19-related changes to parking

Additional, temporary measures about safety, access: mayor

COVID-19: Daily update on the pandemic in Surrey, White Rock and beyond

APRIL 3: More changes to parking in White Rock, $100 million for food banks

Psychologist’s advice on parenting in the pandemic

SFU psychology prof Dr. Tanya Broesch, with expertise in child development, discusses short and long-term impacts COVID-19 pandemic is having on children and parents alike

South Surrey caterer aims to help feed hospital workers during pandemic

Campaign to benefit Peace Arch, Surrey Memorial staff

From inside the ER: B.C. doctor tells it like it is from the frontlines of COVID-19

‘Stay home. It’s working,’ says ER doctor in a Q&A discussion, ‘And please don’t worry.’

B.C. senior gives blood for 200th time, has ‘saved’ 600 lives

There was no cutting of cake for Harvey Rempel but he’s challenging youth to start donating blood

Trudeau commits $100M to help food banks amid COVID-19 crisis

Funds will help ‘urgent food needs’ for Canadians awaiting federal emergency benefits to kick in

Captain America joins friendly Abbotsford Spider-Man to take down trash

Local garbage crew bringing smiles to city amid pandemic

Couple won’t self-isolate after returning from overseas: Cowichan by-law

New law requires 14 days of self-isolation when returning to Canada

How well can cell phones carry COVID-19? Disinfecting may be wise

‘You want to keep it as clean as you would normally your hands’

3M pushes back on Trump administration call to stop sending N95 masks to Canada

3M says it has already been turning out as many of the N95 masks as possible

B.C. health care workers gain access to virtual health care options

During COVID-19 many clinics have closed, leaving health care workers with nowhere to turn

Most Read