Payal Chilongia moved to Madrid four years ago with no money & no Spanish but she’s a strong woman who won’t quit.
She began waitressing 15-hour days at 3 Euros an hour & learned Spanish: “My landlady’s from Peru & she taught me Spanish when I came in 2019. She said: ‘You have to otherwise you can’t get a job here.'”
Now she can speak Spanish, she’s in the Spain national team & has a higher-paying job in security. But life remains challenging – she’s finding it tough to secure employment in her field of Sports (she holds an MBA in Sports Management from Spain), even with Spanish, 1 of 5 languages, including Hindi, English, Kashmiri & Punjabi.
“I am applying all over in Spain,” she says. “I am still trying.”
She ran into visa difficulties in 2020 which have just been resolved & hasn’t seen her parents in 5 years, though she will see them in April.
Payal’s mental strength is rock solid, her heart generous & her drive & attitude first rate. She’s been a brilliant volunteer with Cricket Espana this week – on the gate, on the electronic scoreboard & on the money whatever she’s asked to do.
She grew up playing gully cricket in India with her 3 sisters – “We were playing using the cycle wheels as a stump” – then progressed to state.
“I played against Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Bhutan, but not ICC ones, the ones which is organised by Sports Council Of India.
“I’m an athlete too, I like to run a long distance. I’ve won so many medals in my life you can’t even count.”
Now she plays cricket for Spain. “When I came in 2019 here I was on the Facebook & I was like ‘Oh my God, Spain is having cricket & they’re organising tournaments.'”
She phoned National Coach Neil Brook that day: “He was saying ‘OK, come to Barcelona for the trials, we are going to organise a series here.’ It’s a pride moment for me because this type of platform I never had in my country.”
Though Payal admits life beyond the cricket pitch in Spain has been “very, very difficult”, she faces it with a permanent smile.
“Still I am struggling but I never give up, that is my power,” says Payal. “If I am struggling, OK, no problem. Struggle ends one day.”
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