Arkam Shaikh realised his dream when he walked on to the mat to play his first vivo Pro Kabaddi League match. The all-rounder played for the Adani Sportsline-owned Gujarat Giants in an exciting match against Tamil Thalaivas on Saturday.

When asked how he started playing kabaddi, Shaikh said, "I began playing kabaddi when I was in class 6 in Dombivli, Maharashtra. Renowned kabaddi players like Nilesh Shinde have studied at my school, which trains players very well."

"While playing for my school, I realised how hard one has to work to play kabaddi at the highest level. We used to go and watch players at All India tournaments. Since I play the left cover position, I used to keenly watch the left cover players to incorporate their style in my game," says Akram.

Speaking about his family background, he says, “My father is an auto driver and my mother is a homemaker. My family has always given me a lot of support. Sports has always been a part of my family because my grandfather was a wrestler. So, when I decided to pursue a career in kabaddi, my family was supportive."

Arkam also talked about the influence of former kabaddi player Nilesh Shinde on his career, "Nilesh Shinde Sir taught me everything I know about kabaddi. I have reached this stage only because of him. He used to take me to tournaments, and I worked with him while playing for BPCL. I have been fortunate to work with a coach like Ram Mehar Singh Sir. During our pre-season sessions, he boosted my playing abilities and skill set."