Image Credits: Fistosports
In an e-mail interview to Fisto Sports, the Puneri Paltan raider opens up on his formative years, breakthrough moments, his responsibilities this season, his favourites and much more.
Nitin Tomar's first brush with kabaddi was like most other Indian kids, he was introduced to it in school, after a short stint with wrestling, and he gradually started playing with the kids in the locality. Little did he know then that one day he would be paid Rs 1.15 crore to play the sport. The 23-year-old from Malakpur, a small village in the Baghpat district of Uttar Pradesh, which is famous for churning out wrestlers, with many national and international grapplers rising from the region. Nitin had a promising start to his professional career, when he won gold with the Uttar Pradesh team at the Junior Nationals in 2011, at the tender age of 16. Soon after, with promising performances in inter-school tournaments, Tomar took the game seriously and decided to pursue it further. In 2012, he joined Indian Navy, whilst represented Services in all major tournaments where he won the gold medal in 2014 and 2016 national tournaments.
Nitin’s breakthrough moment came after playing a sequence of good performance in senior nationals; which got the attention of Pro Kabaddi League clubs where he was selected to play for Puneri Paltan in Season 3.
“It was a life-changing moment for me. I had decided to give my best and make my mark in the world of Kabaddi,” says Tomar to Fisto Sports.
After sitting out for the first two seasons of the league, Tomar’s first great spell of form came in the third season, from Bengal Warriors where his scintillating raids and runs remained the talk of the season. In the season 5, Nitin's meteoric rise saw him become the most expensive player in the auctions when Pro Kabaddi was expanded to 12 teams, where UP Yoddhas acquired him for an astronomical INR 93 lakhs. “My parents were very happy when I was the highest bided player in Season 5 auctions and when Puneri Paltan bided Rs. 1.15 crore in PKL Season 6 auctions. This is my second season with Puneri Paltan and it has been a journey to remember for me. I am looking forward to playing with the new, young and dynamic team of Puneri Paltan.”
Tomar also spoke highly about Puneri Paltan’s new coach Ashan Kumar, “I have learnt from him that discipline is very important to succeed. Ashan sire is strict yet loving. He guides us properly and explains us our mistake and ensures that we don’t repeat it the next time.”
For Tomar, there is no off-season as he trains with Navy and plays various inter-department and inter-services tournaments around the year. When asked about how the training regime is like and how he maintains his form during the off-season, “I undergo rigorous training where in the morning for an hour, I do my fitness training and other two hours practice Kabaddi. In the evening again, I practice Kabaddi for two hours.” Though Tomar is a pure raider his swift movements and good flexibility came with the help of wrestling background, which makes him a strong tackler too. But when asked which is more difficult, defending or ride? He says that neither raiding nor defending is difficult, “however the core difference in two roles is that while raiding one must score points alone and while defending one can expect help from other teammates. Both has its own set of skills and so does raiding. That’s why Kabaddi is a tricky and intimidating game.”
It brings him joy that Pro Kabaddi is now popular all over India. With celebrities showing their support, he thinks it could get bigger with their involvement. Tomar also believes that India’s Asian Games defeat to Iran is another positive paradigm to see the sport growing worldwide more than ever.
“Yes, It is sad to see India lose its domination but at the same time if you look at it in a positive way the sport is being played more competitively now and embraced by the world. It’s a game where some win some lose. There are teams like South Korea and Iran who are emerging as new powerhouses of Kabaddi hence taking the sport forward.”
With the new season set to start on October 7, the 23-year-old has his sights high on winning the trophy with Puneri Paltan. When asked about his team and this season expectations, Tomar says that Puneri Paltan is a young team and a strong one at that. “This is my second season with Puneri Paltan. I am really looking forward to playing with the new, young and dynamic team. I want to give my best this season and play a key role in lifting the trophy for Puneri Paltan.”