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

 

Just Posted

Crashes pile up as snow blankets Surrey

Up to 10 centimetres of snow is in the forecast

How much does your city spend per person on snow removal?

Black Press Media compares 2018 ice and snow removal budgets of various Lower Mainland communities

B.C. BUDGET: Surplus $374 million after bailouts of BC Hydro, ICBC

Growth projected stronger in 2020, Finance Minister Carole James says

Surrey pastor in concert with songs from her new ‘Psalms for a Peaceful Heart’ CD

‘Incredible’ church sanctuary in Whalley a stage for Lori-Anne Boutin-Crawford’s music

Plan to redevelop former Surrey motel site too dense, says Coun. Pettigrew

Pettigrew: ‘We need to build liveable community with green spaces… not massive zones that are densified’

‘Riya was a dreamer’: Mother of slain 11-year-old Ontario girl heartbroken

Her father, Roopesh Rajkumar, 41, was arrested some 130 kilometres away

Market volatility, mortgages loom over upcoming earnings of Canada’s big banks

Central bank interest hikes have padded the banks’ net interest margins

Hearings into SNC-Lavalin affair start today, but not with Wilson-Raybould

She has repeatedly cited solicitor-client privilege to refuse all comment

VIDEO: 8 things you need to know about the 2019 B.C. budget

Surplus of $247 million with spending on children, affordability and infrastructure

Tilray to acquire hemp food company Manitoba Harvest for up to $419 million

Tilray will pay $150 million in cash and $127.5 million in stock.

Tears, flowers at impromptu memorial for Syrian children killed in Halifax fire

The family had only lived in the Quartz Drive home for a few months

NDP candidates push for stronger climate action as Singh supports LNG Canada

Singh has tried to project unity in the party while facing internal criticism for poor fundraising and low support in the polls

Ex-Langley spiritual leader cleared of stock trading allegations

Investors allegedly lost $740,000 investing through a local religious organization.

‘Bullet missed me by an inch’: Man recounts friend’s killing at Kamloops hotel

Penticton man witnessed Summerland resident Rex Gill’s murder in Kamloops

Most Read