Interview with U Mumba captain Anup Kumar: "I will have to keep my team in control when we’re playing"
“Haven’t we met before”? U Mumba captain Anup Kumar probably meets a lot of people every day. He still attempts to recollect where he has met me. “Yes, at the NSCI stadium”, I jog his memory.
“Yeah, I thought so”.
As the third season of the Pro Kabaddi League edges closer, Mumbai’s go to raider seems calm and spoke to Sportskeeda about a wide array of topics.
Here are the excerpts:
What have you been up to Anup? Apart from Kabaddi
Well during the off-season I didn’t do much. I like to stay at home. I don’t really roam around a lot. I try to spend as much as time possible with my family. I rarely go out when I am not playing
You’ve made only one addition to your squad this season- Rakesh Kumar. You reckon you have an advantage since the team is set, unlike some of your opponents who’ve made wholesale changes to their squad?
Well, we can definitely benefit from this. We’ve been playing together continuously for two years now. Every player knows how and when his teammate could attempt a tackle. We’re aware of the players who can secure a raiding point during tense situations. So in a sense, we are very well versed with the entire system that’s in place.
Talking about the other teams, I think they are in a position to set themselves as well. This season, everyone has had time to train a lot more during the practice camps. With U Mumba, all the players know each other very well and that definitely helps. Even if the benefit is 10% or 20%, we definitely can benefit from our stable squad.
What does a typical U Mumba training day look like?
Look, we practice every day. In the morning for 2 and a half hours and in the evening for the same time. So in a day, we practice for five hours and that’s the minimum. This involves everything. We hit the gym, long-running, cross country running. We work a lot on speed work - 50-meter, 100-meter and 70-meter sprints. In order to build strength, we also run on sand. We have a weekly schedule and we train accordingly.
Can you talk a bit about the new addition, Rakesh Kumar? What does he bring to the team?
Rakesh is a pretty good raider. He is experienced. At any point in a match, if a team needs a point, you can bank on him. This is my opinion. Secondly, he is a good all-rounder. He can play as a second man and spot really well. In my opinion, he is one of the best spotters in India.
When he’s playing at the corner or covering, he does this really well. Plus he is ready to defend. Play him on any corner and he will do the job. We don’t have a player in our squad who is versatile and is efficient at the corners/sides. With Rakesh, you can play him on any corner. That’s a huge plus.
Is motivation a factor heading into the tournament?
Well, I will have to keep my team in control when we’re playing. If we end up playing too aggressively based on the fact that we’re champions, nothing will come out of it. You get the results for the effort you put on the Kabaddi mat. We can’t think of lifting the trophy from the beginning. We will take each game as it comes. So first we are focusing on our opening match, which we hope to win. It’s all about building momentum.
Your favorite meal before a match?
Well, I don’t have anything special. On a match day, I only have breakfast. When there is a match in the evening, I don’t eat lunch. Before every match, I drink a cup of tea. I regard this as obligatory.
Any chance we could get to see some new faces breaking into the first seven?
Look, there are two defenders who are doing well right now and will probably represent India in the future. Surinder Nada and Mohit Chillar. I think they can win the Arjuna award. In the raiding department, I am 100% sure he will represent India multiple times. And of course, there is Rishank who is young as well.
We have a lot of talented youngsters like Prapanjan, Anoop and a few others. But if they think that they’re with U Mumba now and that’s enough then that’s not ideal. They need to have the mentality that they can break into the first seven. I am confident they can. It’s all about practicing and working hard.
Watch a video of a day with Anup, presented by hotstar, below: