2016 Kabaddi World Cup: Coach told the players to calm down at half-time, reveals Anup Kumar
Anup Kumar explains what turned the tide in India's favour in the second half of the Kabaddi World Cup
Trailing by 5 points at the half-time break, India turned the tables on Iran in the second half to win 38-29, in the process demonstrating why they are the indisputable champions in the sport of kabaddi. After lifting the trophy, the captain of the Indian team Anup Kumar talked about a plethora of topics, ranging from the tactics to his retirement.
The interview began in hilarious fashion with Anup being his quirky self, answering in his typical witty manner when asked how heavy the World Cup trophy was.
Here’s the full excerpt of the interview:
Q. Congratulations Anup on lifting the World Cup trophy. Exactly how heavy was it!?
Anup Kumar: (Laughs) It was the World Cup trophy. No matter how heavy it was, we had to lift it!
Q. What did the coach say at half-time that resulted in this sensational comeback? What was the mood in the camp at the break?
Anup Kumar: He upped our confidence at the break. Despite Iran having a 5-point lead, the coach told us to remain calm and use our heads. He told us not to hurry and gave us confidence by saying that we have the quality to win, but we need a cool mind to achieve the same. He asked us to calm down and we executed that to perfection on the mat in the second half.
Balwan Singh: Our mood at half-time was to win!
Q. How much pressure was there playing at home and trailing by 5 points at half-time?
Anup Kumar: There was no pressure as the coach had taken all of it away. He asked us to play without any pressure
Q. You have been part of a lot of matches where the game was decided in the last 5-10 minutes. How vital was your experience in today’s win?
Anup Kumar: Experience helps a lot. It wasn’t just me alone, but the entire team and the coaches, who were guiding us from outside. I was executing the plans that they had laid out for us. When we are playing, the tempo is so high, it takes a good coach to send his message across. Once I received their message, I conveyed it to my players, who followed it and that’s why we won today!
Q. Your thoughts on the retirement rumours.
Anup Kumar: I am not retiring. There was some miscommunication with the press and the wrong things were printed. I have cleared it the past few days and I’ll say it again, I am not in the mood to retire. I want to play for my country for a long time to come.
Q. The last Kabaddi World Cup happened nine years ago. Do you think it should happen more frequently?
Anup Kumar: It is a sad thing that it took 9 years to play this massive tournament again. As far as I know, it will happen every 2 years. It is a brilliant thing for kabaddi. The players will benefit the most and more talented players will get a chance to represent their country.
Q. How do you compare this match to the 2014 Asian Games final, where you edged out Iran at the very end?
Anup Kumar: We had a tough match in the Asian Games, this wasn’t as tough as that. We are champions, we always play like one and we will continue to play like champions. At the Asian Games, the match was level near the end. Today, they had a 5-point lead at half-time. In kabaddi, even a 10-point lead at the break is nothing. The coaches drilled a lot of confidence in us at the break and Ajay (Thakur) was playing really well too, so we never doubted ourselves.
Q. Do you have any comments about the crowd?
Anup Kumar: The crowd was always behind us 100%. They supported us through thick and thin and maybe that’s why we won.
Q. This was the first time International Kabaddi was played with Pro Kabaddi rules, with do-or-die raids. How difficult was it to make the transition?
Anup Kumar: Yes, it is true that rules at the international level were changed for the first time. But, we have been playing with these rules for the past 4 seasons in the Pro Kabaddi League, so there was no problem in adjusting to the same.
Q. What do you have to say about this historic moment in Indian kabaddi?
Anup Kumar: Today’s win will be written in the history books. We’ll be called World Champions from now on!
The Indian captain signed off and joined in the celebrations once again.