Securing the title of number 2 raider in the Vivo Pro Kabaddi League, Rohit Kumar gets candid.
Coming from a small village,Nizampur, Delhi’s Rohit Kumar was second amongst the top three raiders. With a very humble nature and respect for his game, Rohit gets candid with us and answers all our questions with a lot of patience and a warm smile on his face.
Almost a few years back, the game of Kabaddi was not as famous and had little scope. Despite this fact you still chose to be a part of the sport .What was your driving force?
I always had an interest in the game from the beginning. No particular thought influenced my decision. I watched senior players in my village play and wanted to play too. I was really naughty as a kid, always more interested in sports than in studies. I went to the park nearby and it all started there.
What role has the game played in your personal life?
The game has inculcated the habit of discipline in me. The quality of punctuality is a ladder of success for any player. Even in the Naval forces this is the first thing that was taught to us.
What credit would you give to sports in any individual’s life?
Playing a sport has not only one but various advantages. Any sportsperson can be identified from a distance. The way he/she walks or carry themselves, their body language, all stands out.
You were the second most expensive player of the league and you delivered as well. But the team still couldn’t make it to the playoffs. What is your stand on that?
In the beginning of the league, our initial matches were good. As a captain I felt that the results of our training were showing up and the team was performing well. All that our coach taught us, the team was doing. We decided to concentrate on the upcoming matches rather than focusing on the ones we lost. But when we consecutively lost the fourth match the morale of the team went down. Post the losses, the defenders and raiders weren’t able to sync together and that was our downfall. Everybody was cheering for us and were sure that we’d reach the finals. We tried our best and needed only a few points for the playoffs. We were really disappointed because we wanted to be a part of the semifinals.
Would you stay in Bengaluru Bulls for the next season or would you like to switch teams?
I would like to stay with Bengaluru Bulls only, if they keep me (laughs).
Who do you think is the best defender in the league?
SandeepNarwal from PuneriPaltan. It becomes difficult to raid in front of him.
Who is Rohit Kumar off the field?
I lead a very normal life. I work for the Naval forces and play kabaddi. I train round the year and whenever I get an off I come back home and relax and watch movies. Other than that I love swimming.
In the next ten years where do see kabaddi and yourself in that scenario?
Ten years is a long time. In another three or four years, if at the same pace, kabaddi will be a highly appreciated sport. Right now about forty or fifty percent people know about the game and people are really shy to approach the players too. But in the coming three or four years people will start recognizing the players even through tainted windows of a car. That is the level kabaddi is going to reach.
Have you experienced any crazy fan moment until now?
Yes definitely. Only two days ago, there was a fan from Himachal Pradesh who specially came to meet me. He had no clue about my address. He got my phone number in about 4 days after coming to Delhi. Even after taking my number he did not call me for two days because he was scared and shy. Later when he called the third day, he told me the whole story. I invited him home and then he stayed with me for a day and was extremely happy.
Your love for Akshay Kumar is not hidden. Other than him who do you admire in Bollywood?
Other than Akshay I like Salman Khan as well.
If ever in life you get an opportunity to share the screen with Akshay Kumar would take it?
Definitely, why not? When the matches happened in Delhi, he was there. He wanted to meet me and the team before our match, but since he was the co-owner of the opposing team he wasn’t allowed. We lost the match that day and my performance also wasn’t that great. I met him post the match and still cherish the moment.
Do you think that ProKabaddi has contributed to the fanfare for the game?
Yes definitely. You must have seen KBD juniors also happening simultaneously. There is a lot of craze for kabaddi now, whether in villages or in towns. I see a lot of kids playing kabaddi nowadays and I hope they take the sport forward after us.
Do you think kabaddi can achieve the same amount of fanfare and glamour as cricket?
Cricket has been there for a long time. And kabaddi has just gained momentum. Everybody has played kabaddi in the schools when young. It’ll take time but kabaddi will gain popularity each year it progresses.
What are your plans for retirement from the game?
It is too early for retirement. I will play for the next eight to ten years. If a sportsman is fit and practices daily, he is good to go for a long time. And with a smile he ends the interview and happily poses for the camera.