New Delhi: Anup Kumar, who retired from kabaddi in 2018, had a distinguished career in the sport.
He made his international debut in 2006 at the South Asian Games where India won gold. He also lifted the 2016 Kabaddi World Cup trophy and was conferred with the Arjuna Award in 2012. Recently, the kabaddi great spoke to Sports Lounge over various aspects of the sport. current sports news india sports news game reading
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SL: You have been a Kabaddi enthusiast, who inspired you to take up the sport?
AK: I took up Kabaddi due to my school teacher. He introduced me to the sport. I was tall and very athletic which is why he pursued me to start playing. I took it up at a young age, in the sixth or seventh standard. Although it started out by chance, the sport caught my interest and kabaddi became an integral part of my life.
SL: Was there any difficult moment in your life that made you think about quitting Kabaddi?
AK: There was not a moment when I felt like giving up Kabaddi, but one incident made me realise the value that the sport holds in my life. Around 2004, my brother had given me an ultimatum that I just had one year to prove myself.
He had given me one year to make a career out of sports failing which I would have to go back to studies and take up a job eventually. I was definitely not willing to give up on my passion, so I went that extra mile to perform better. With relentless efforts and determination, I made sure that I don’t have to quit it.
SL: Following the launch of Pro Kabaddi League, Kabaddi in India has inched new heights, what do you think, is it enough to promote the sport? Do you think authorities and administration need to take more steps towards the encouragement of sport?
AK: As a whole, Kabaddi has undergone a major transition in the country, people are extremely receptive towards it today. Ever since the Vivo Pro-Kabaddi League commenced, the sport has really come a long way. current sports news india sports news game reading
In terms of popularity, it is the fastest-growing non-cricket sport. The perception about Kabaddi has changed now. There is an instant connect with the sport and that has helped the sport to grow by leaps and bounds. Now, Kabaddi has a cool quotient associated with it and people see it in a completely new avatar.
Having said that, though PKL has given Kabaddi the required recognition, I still feel that there needs to be solid investments on developing infrastructure for the game at the grassroot. Every state should come up with the best facilities for the sport. If we have good facilities from the beginning, that would be very helpful for new talent.
SL: As the head coach of Puneri Paltan, what’s your plan for the ongoing season and what are your expectations from the team?
AK: Our preliminary objective is to make it to the playoffs and subsequently lift the trophy. We are concentrating on one game at a time. I feel it is important to take each game as it comes and focus on each moment during these games as that would help us to refine our performance.
SL: What are the strengths of Puneri Paltan and which teams are the strongest contenders of the current season?
AK: I see a lot of potential in this squad. Having a very balanced side this season which would shape up well for Puneri Paltan. Our raiding department and our defence unit is equally a priority for us, and we are concentrating on strengthening both.
Our raiding is led by strong players like Nitin, Manjeet, Pawan and our defence by experienced players like Surjeet and Girish. We also have a lot of promising youngsters like Pankaj, Sanket, and Sushant who have performed extremely well in the previous matches. current sports news india sports news game reading
According to me, every team is equally strong. Eventually, your performance, at that moment, on the mat, is what counts. I have always worked towards being the best and I have a similar outlook towards my team.
SL: What do you think about Kabaddi in Olympics?
AK: The game has a very rich history, and is reckoned as India’s indigenous sport. The world has embraced Kabaddi today, there are a number of countries that play the sport and in future, I expect more countries joining in. I feel it would be great to see Kabaddi be a part of the Olympics. current sports news india sports news game reading
SL:What’s your opinion on other team coaches, especially Rakesh Kumar?
AK: Rakesh is more than just my contemporary, he has been one of my closest friends. Together we have designed strategies, defeated our rivals and achieved milestones for our country. Over the years, during matches and national camps, we have relied on each other’s experience and expertise.
He is one of the most respected Kabaddi players in India, and just like me, he has donned the hat of a coach this season. I would like to give him my best wishes for this new journey.