What led you to take up kabaddi?
I started playing Kabaddi in my school days. It was only after 12th standard when I was selected to play in the state level championships I took the sport seriously. I moved from Kolhapur to Pune for Kabaddi, and the sport changed my life forever.
Your journey to Pro Kabbadi league
I hail from Anaje in Radhanagari Taluka, 40 km away from Kolhapur. I started playing Kabaddi for my school and enjoyed playing it. In 2014, I was invited by Appasaheb Dalvi to play for the Pune team in state level tournaments and that is when I moved to Pune. In one such state level tournament, Puneri Paltan’s mentor Ashok Shinde sir noticed me and selected me to play for Puneri Paltan season 4.
Toughest team & player you have faced this season
All teams and players are tough. One can’t say that a particular team or player is tough. This season, new players are also performing well and helping their teams win matches.
How much has Pro kabaddi league changed kabaddi in India
Pro Kabaddi League has popularized Kabaddi in India more than ever and given a platform to all the young & talented players to showcase their ability.
Your ambition for the current season
As a raider, I wish to run to the rescue of my team during crucial matches. I want to contribute to the team and fulfil our dream of winning our maiden title this season. More than my individual ambition, my team’s ambition and dream matter to me the most.
Where do you think your team has to improve, if they have to challenge for the championship.
Our team has shaped up really well under the guidance of our head coach-BC Ramesh. There is no particular area as such. After every match, we assess our performance and work on our short comings.
How do you feel when you play alongside Dharmaraj Cheralathan?
It is an absolute pleasure to play alongside Anna. He is the senior-most player in our team with experience of about 20 years. At this age, Anna is fit as a horse and keeps guiding the team from time to time on fitness and tactics.
Your World Cup Dreams
I currently play for Pune’s Income tax team. I was also a part of Maharashtra Team in the 63rd Senior National Kabaddi Tournament. I want to play the Asian Games and the World Cup and bring medals for my country.
Your thoughts on Mr. Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore being elected as the sports minister.
I am extremely happy to know that an esteemed sportsperson & an Olympic medalist is the sports minister. I am sure Mr. Rathore would understand the difficulties faced by upcoming athletes and work for their welfare.
If you had to make a biopic on one Kabaddi player, who would that be and why?
I admire our chief mentor, Ashok Shinde Sir. He has had a great career in Kabaddi. He has represented India on National and International platforms and got many medals for the country. He was the first raider in 1990 when Kabaddi was introduced in Asian Games for the first time. Ashok sir is the pride of Maharashtra and I would love to watch his biopic on screen.
As kabaddi is more of an aggressive game, how do you maintain your composure on ground?
We as a team, compulsorily do yoga before match to maintain composure on field.
How is the atmosphere in the Puneri Paltan’s dressing room
The atmosphere is great. Before match, we all huddle up, motivate each other and then go on the field.
What is the atmosphere during India vs Pakistan Kabaddi match?
All India Pakistan matches, be it Kabaddi, Cricket or Hockey, are interesting to watch. But all sportsperson play all the matches with the same spirit.
Would you like to change the rules in Kabaddi to make it more attractive to the audience?
I don’t think so. Kabaddi is a great game and I would like to keep it that way.
Your future plans for kabaddi
I wish to represent India in the world cup and win a gold medal.
Message to Puneri Paltan’s army (fans)
I would like to thank all Puneri Paltan fans from the bottom of my heart for supporting us. Your constant encouragement keeps us all motivated.
Message to your opponents
Thank you for constantly pushing me to improve my game and become better.