"Accept AKFI's decision to drop me from Indian team," says U Mumba captain Anup Kumar in interview
He has for long been the face of Indian kabaddi, leading the national team to multiple successes and trophies over the last few years. However, fans were left in shock when Anup Kumar was not included in the Indian side for the Asian Championships in November last year, where it was Ajay Thakur who led the team to the title.
Captain Cool, as he is popularly known, had a disappointing Pro Kabaddi League Season 5 campaign by his high standards, where his team U Mumba failed to make it to the playoffs. Anup, who had led them to three finals in the last four seasons, too was forced to carry the team on his shoulders, with his teammates not offering sufficient support.
With 2017 behind him, the 34-year-old is looking to make a comeback at the Senior National Kabaddi Championships in Hyderabad, where he is leading a star-studded Haryana side.
Sportskeeda caught up with him for an exclusive chat, where Anup spoke about his upcoming plans and his thoughts on being dropped from the national team. Here are a few excerpts!
How would you assess your performance in the year gone by?
2017 was a good year for me, I feel. My team could not do as well as we wanted to in the Pro Kabaddi League but still, it was a satisfying year. I gave it my best and overall, I am pleased with the way it went.
Many fans were left stunned when your name was not included in the Indian team for the Asian Championships. What was the reason behind your exclusion? Were there any fitness concerns?
The reason could have been by performance. I admit it was not up to the mark in the league and on that basis, the federation decided that I was not fit to play in the Asian Championships.
I am not upset with their decision and in fact, I agree with it. I have no problems at all on being dropped and if they thought it was the right call, I accept it.
What are the targets you have set for yourself in 2018?
For now, my full focus is on the ongoing nationals. My target is to play to the best of my ability and get the gold medal for team Haryana. Whatever happens after that, we will see later.
And what are your views on the way the Nationals have been organized?
I am very happy with the way the competition has been organized and how things have been arranged. The accommodation, food, courts and management have all been great.
With the arrival of the Pro Kabaddi League, how do you feel competitions like the Nationals have been affected?
The Nationals have always been of primary importance. Playing in the Nationals is compulsory for us since we are not given jobs without the participation certificate.
As far as the quality is concerned, it certainly has gone up. The sport has improved as a whole and even in state and district tournaments, we see the level of play become much better and more competitive!