Image Credits: Puneri Paltan
Kabaddi has been a part of his household, with his father being a Kabaddi player, foraying into the sport was his next obvious step. His journey into Kabaddi began in the 5th std., where he represented his school in various competitions. One of his life’s milestones was being a part of the World cup winning team in 2016. He credits this as one of the most memorable moments of his Kabaddi career.
He is always alert to dash his opponents off the mat, making him a key element for the team to keep the score high. Surjeet is ready to tackle any situation by displaying a powerful stance and prove that the defender is indeed, perilous to play against.
When you started playing Kabaddi and how were the initial years like and did you always want to be a defender?
Kabaddi had always been a part of my household, with my father being a Kabaddi player. I followed his footsteps and took up the sport. I started playing when I was a child, in the fifth standard. When I was introduced to the sport, I realised I was good at defending and I further worked on enhancing my skills.
Did you have any sporting heroes growing up? Someone you looked up to?
I think without a doubt, it has to be Anup Kumar. He has been one of the Kabaddi icons for our country and has been a role model for every Kabaddi enthusiast. I feel so grateful that I have the opportunity to train under him. His command over the sport is so strong that he has answers to each and every problems.
How would you describe your style of play? For example you looked sharp at the back, is pushing up the court and having a go on raiders something we can expect to see from you?
I usually play as per the raider’s moves and accordingly devise a counterattack. I feel that it is very important to analyse the raider, his footwork and anticipate his move, to make it a successful tackle. As a defender, I look to capitalize on the raider’s mistake and score for my team.
Where do you see Puneri Paltan finishing in PKL season 7?
The season so far has been a mixed bag for us, and we have had our share of hits and misses. Having said that, wins and defeats are a part of the game. I am confident that we will perform to our highest potential in the upcoming matches. We also have our home-leg approaching which is another opportunity for us to put up a great show.
They say experience counts and that it’s the best teacher. How far do you agree to this where your journey is concerned?
Experience plays a significant role, not just in sports but in any profession. There is so much learning that happens and it also helps to develop confidence in your abilities. As far as Kabaddi is concerned, experience helps you develop a strong understanding of the game. The experience I have gathered throughout the years has helped me in comprehending playing styles and has helped me in devising strategies on the mat in pressure situations.
Being a defender do you feel about any particular raider who can give you a tough time on the pitch?
Every raider has their own style of playing and I don’t see any particular raider giving me a tough time on the mat. I always do my homework and study the opponent team. For me, as a defender what is important is to devise strategies according to the raider’s strengths and weaknesses. One should be well versed with the raider’s style, his signature moves, footwork etc. It is vital to concentrate on a raider’s footwork to anticipate the move he will make and devise a strategy to counter the move and successfully tackle the raider. Every raider will have a certain pattern, it is important to study that pattern and prepare for it accordingly.
The sport Kabaddi seems to keep growing as well as the popularity of the wider audience, how much do you notice the changes from inside the game?
I remember when I started out, the game was not as popular as it is today. The sport has undergone a complete transition today and it is all because of the PKL. We have become household names today, and people recognise us. The love, affection and support that we get from our fans is overwhelming. I had never imagined that our humble sport of Kabaddi would be embraced with so much love by the people. Today, people look up to us wanting to become Kabaddi players and joining the game, which is definitely a welcome change for us.
What are your hobbies apart from Kabaddi?
When I am not playing, I like to spend time with my family and friends. I try my best to give them as much time as possible. I also concentrate on my fitness a lot, and I regularly hit the gym and go for a run.
Which team do you think can pose a threat to Puneri Paltan for the upcoming season?
I don’t see any particular team as competition or a threat for us. Every team is working hard to prove themselves and give their best. Every match has been extremely nail-biting and it has been difficult to predict the winner. Every team is a strong team and is here to perform and so is Puneri Paltan.
What are you hoping to achieve this season both for yourself and for the team as a whole?
On the personal front, I recently scored 250 total points in PKL which was a major achievement for me. My team’s objective is my personal goal. My motto has always been to give the best performance for my team, under any circumstances. My team’s performance is what matters to me the most and with the efforts that we are putting in, it will definitely reflect in our performance.
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