Interview with Bengaluru Bulls' newest addition Rohit Kumar: "My dad had this dream about me that one day I will go on and represent my nation"
Indian international Rohit Kumar became an overnight success following his remarkable run in the season 3 of Star Sports Pro Kabaddi League which propelled Patna Pirates to their 1st ever PKL title earlier this year.
The 26-year old raider was also selected in the Indian line-up for the first time in his career at the recently concluded South Asian Games and helped the team to clinch their 8th Gold medal in the tournament history. He took the kabaddi world by storm in his inaugural season at PKL, gathering a mammoth total of 102 raid points in 12 matches he played for the Patna-based franchise and eventual champions Patna Pirates.
Here are the few quotes from Rohit Kumar’s exclusive conversation with Sportskeeda’s kabaddi experts Saransh Gehlot and Abhishek Jain, where the 26-year old raider talks about his obsession with Akshay Kumar, his journey, joining the Navy and much more:
Q: You are a big fan of Akshay Kumar, even has his name and face inked on your body. What role has he played in shaping your career?
A: He is my idol for a long time now, the amount of hard work he has done to achieve these great heights in the film industry is extraordinary. He had no family relations in the film industry before joining it, he had his struggles and he overcame all that with his hard work. I try to emulate his hard work whenever I am on the mat playing kabaddi, though I have not met him in person yet!
“It was through kabaddi only that I got admitted in the Navy in 2009”
Q: Can you please tell us more about your journey since you first picked up kabaddi as your first choice sport?
A: At the time when I was just a kid, elders use to play to kabaddi in my hometown (Nizampur) and that is where I took up the sport and started enjoying it. We were just kids when senior players like Manjeet Chhillar and Rakesh Kumar use to train in Nizampur, they use to teach the junior players about the basics of the game. Seeing them excel in the sport gave me the confidence to achieve something similar in the world of kabaddi.
Q: In you inaugural season itself you were adjudged as the ‘Most Valuable Player’ of season 3, how did it feel?
A: I never thought that I would be the one to get the award, the only thing on my mind was to perform for my franchise. It felt really good to get the Most Valuable Player award in my first season itself. With Pardeep and Rishank also in the chase, it was never on my conscience that I would go on and get the award, so we can say that a bit of luck was also involved. I would also like to thank the media and the fans who have supported me throughout the campaign!
Q: How has kabaddi helped you in your journey so far?
A: It was through kabaddi only that I got admitted in the Navy in 2009 and joined the Services sector. It was the thought of getting a job and a place of work in the city of Mumbai that propelled me to move there and in addition to that I would be having a chance to meet my idol(Akshay Kumar).
“My dad had this dream about me that one day I will go on and represent my nation”
Q: How did the Services department (SSCB) help you in improving your game to this level?
A: The kind of player I am today is all because of the Services Board, the level of training and discipline that we went through there is extraordinary! Now even I am happy with my decision to join Navy and because of all that hard work that I did there, my game has improved to this level. All thanks to the Navy as because of them I have been able to reach this great kabaddi platform of Pro Kabaddi League.
Q: You even went on to represent your nation at the South Asian Games and won the Gold medal, how did it feel at the moment?
A: It was a great moment for me and my family, even my dad had this dream about me that one day I will go on and represent my nation. He had no such dream for me where I would be settled down with a job, however, he had this dream of seeing me in Tricolour and perform at the highest level just as Rakesh Kumar and Manjeet Chhillar did in their time.
Q: Your new teammate Mohit Chhillar spoke very highly of you, about your raiding qualities. What all can you bring to this new Bengaluru Bulls side?
A: I can’t do anything alone on the mat, even with the Pirates, it was the great team combination that worked so well for us. Both Mohit Chhillar and Surender Nada are more or less the backbone of kabaddi, they are both great defenders, understands the game very well. Even when the auction was going for the Services players, I was hoping to go into the team where I would get a chance to prove myself just as I got with the Patna franchise!