Hailing from a small village named Sadoli Khalsa near the city of Kolhapur in Maharashtra, young Tushar Patil, has found his way into the dressing room of the Star Sports Pro Kabaddi League side Puneri Paltan. Young Tushar was scouted by the watchful eyes of Puneri Paltan during their Young Talent Championships in Maharashtra.
The 20-year-old has since been living his dream as he shares dressing room with the likes of Wazir Singh. He spoke to Sportskeeda at length about how he took to the sport and how he brought smile to his village which lives and breathes the sport of kabaddi, apart from his obvious joy of being part of the Puneri Paltan setup.
Here are the excerpts:
Q. How and when did you start playing kabaddi?
In my younger days, I was more inclined towards wrestling as my father was national level wrestler and a gymnast too. But, kabaddi was a big sport in my village where I used to stay and there were four major kabaddi teams in my village. So I used to play for my school and I first played a kabaddi game when I was 12.
Q. When did you decide to become a professional kabaddi player?
For very long I only looked at kabaddi as a great form of exercise that would keep me fit enough to be eligible to become a policeman. I did play sport at the national level when I took part in the National level school competition for kabaddi as well as playing for Maharashtra’s junior team.
But, I really decided to become a professional kabaddi player after watching the Pro Kabaddi League on the television last year. I always wanted to be a part of it and hence I worked extremely hard for the past year or so with my coach and fortunately I am here now.
Q. How important has your family been during your journey from Sadoli Khalsa to Pune?
My family has always supported me well and they are happy to see me play in the Pro Kabaddi League. But they have always been there by my side. I got injured during the sub-junior camp in 2010 and it was a very difficult time for me. My injury worsened, but my family helped me get out of it. So their role has been immense.
Q. When you went for Puneri Paltan’s Young talent championship, did you feel you would be selected?
I never thought that I would be selected. In fact, since it was a competition, I was always thinking about my team and how I would help them win it. I was extremely motivated to help my team win, so the thought of the selection often took the back seat.
Q. When you eventually got selected, what was the atmosphere like at home?
When I got selected, everyone was extremely happy. My entire village and my friends were delighted for me and it was almost like a festival in my village.
Q. So far how has the experience been at Puneri Paltan? How does it feel to play with the likes of Wazir Singh?
I have had a very good time. I have learnt so many things from so many people here that I can feel my game getting better every day. My coach has been very supportive towards me and has helped me get better.
Wazir Singh has been an inspiration for me. I am also a raider so I have learnt lot of things from him like how to make the entry, how to take the bonus and how to observe the opponents.
Q.7 Do you feel playing in the Pro Kabaddi League will help you play for the Indian team one day?
Yes. My aim is to help India win a medal one day. Pro Kabaddi League is a great platform and I wish to continue to play in it for many years. I hope one day I will play for India.
Q. How does your family and friends feel to see you on TV?
They are of course very happy. My family never misses any Pro Kabaddi games and look forward to Puneri Paltan playing. My friends often ask me about our practice and the players which I play with. They are always excited to hear my experiences with the Puneri Paltan.
Q. Do you have any personal goal for this season?
I just want to help my team in every way possible. I will make sure I give my very best whenever I get a chance to play. I don’t have any personal goal. I just want to help my team win every time we play.