Meet Dabang Delhi's Jay Bahadur - From fighting Maoists to playing in Pro Kabaddi
One of Dabang Delhi’s 4 foreign recruits this season, Jay Bahadur’s story from abject oblivion to sporting stardom has been an inspiring one to say the least. As the season came to an end for the team 2 days back in Pune, the armyman from Nepal opened up exclusively to Sports Keeda about his interests and how this season has helped him evolve as a Kabaddi player.
Here are the excerpts:
Q. Hi Jay, please tell us little bit about yourself.
I hail from the land of mountains, Nepal. My village Kanchanpur falls near the Uttarakhand border and it is known to be one of the few villages in Nepal which have produced kabaddi players for the nation. I have got two kids – 1 girl and a boy, and my mom also stays with me. Nepal Army is my present employer and I have been an Army man for the last 13 years. The government of Nepal decided to stage the National Games recently where Nepal Army decided to field a team in kabaddi and since then I have not looked back.
Q. You mentioned that you work for Nepal Army. How tough is it to work in the hostile environment there?
I began my journey in the Army in 2002. Most of my time, I am fighting rebels (Maoists) in the jungles near the border with combats duration running to almost 4-5 hours. I was in Congo a few months back being part of an 8-month long UN peacekeeping force.
However, the incident which has stuck me the worst and will always be a nightmare was when I was called to duty for the rescue work of the earthquake victims. We all were devastated by the incident and thanks to God, the area of my residence was not hit by the tremors. I was on my holiday, spending time with my family when I got a call to report back to my battalion. The next few days we spent searching in the debris with a hope of rescuing as many victims as possible. But mostly (he sighs) it were the dead bodies.
Having said that, the situation in Nepal is much better now and the part which makes me most happy is all the people of Nepal came together in unison to make a better tomorrow for Nepal.
Q. Tell us how did you get initiated with the game of kabaddi?
Kabaddi is played immensely around the areas of Bhaktapur, Dabusa and Kanchanpur in Nepal. Having said that, my village is known to produce players for the Nepal national team. My brother has played for the national team as well years back and he was the real inspiration behind me taking up the sport.
As a child, my brother used to take me along with him to all the local tournaments that he used to participate in and I picked up the nuances of the game from there.
Q. You have been quite prolific with the Nepal senior team? Please share some light on your international achievements.
I made my debut for the Nepal senior team in the year 2008 and since then, have been part of the senior team. My best moment came when we won the bronze medal in the 11th SAG Games held in Dhaka. It was the first medal that Nepal had won in an international event. Other than that, I was also named the best player at the National Games, Nepal, 2015.
Being stable is key and I am happy to say that due to my form and consistency, I have participated in international tournaments like 2008 National Games (3rd position), 2009 National Games (1st), 2010 SA Games (3rd), 2011 SA Beach Games (3rd), 2012 National Championship (1st), 2012 National Championship (2nd), 2014 National Games (2nd).
Q. Well we don’t really associate Nepal with the sport of kabaddi. Tell us how the game is perceived there.
Kabaddi is a sport that is part of school selected sports in Kathmandu. However, there is a lack of interest and fan following apart from no grassroots facilities in the country. Around 2008/2009, I almost quit playing kabaddi as it was getting impossible to juggle the dual life of an athlete and an army man.
However, once the insurgency got over and the government was staging the National Games, Nepal Army decided to field a team and that is how I came back to my playing days and since then have not stopped playing.
Q. Did people follow the inaugural season of Pro Kabaddi there? Have youngsters started to take the sport more seriously post success of the league?
The inaugural edition of Pro Kabaddi league has already won hearts in India as well as in Nepal as the whole country was hooked to the matches shown on TV last year. And it’s a dream come true for me to be part of the same this year. The whole exposure to training, facilities and technicality while being part of my team, Dabnag Delhi will help me to learn and not only become a better player but I also intend to carry all these experiences home and impart it among fellow players and lead the upcoming grassroots initiatives of Dabang Delhi in Nepal.
Q. How was your experience in PKL Season 2 thus?
I feel proud to don the red jersey of Dabang Delhi in Season 2 of PKL. A lot of other franchises also wanted to sign me, but it was the project of Dabang Delhi which fascinated me the most. The presence of Arjuna Awardee coach, Honnappa C Gowda along with Asst. Coach Arjun Singh has helped me a lot in the technicality of the sport and my teammates have also made me feel at home. Also, I am learning a lot from my counterparts in other teams.
I have been to India couple of times but have never got the opportunity to travel as either I was on duty or was playing. But such has been the format of the league that the caravan moves in a home-away leg allowing me to see places which I never thought I could.
Q. Who are you closest to in the team?
Surjeet is a very good friend of mine as we have met before also at the Asian Beach Kabaddi Championship in Sri Lanka. Other than him, Amit Chillar and Rohit Kumar are the funniest in our team and always keep the mood of the team light.
Q. Finally, how do you bide your time while you aren’t raiding opponent defences? Do you watch Bollywood movies? If so, who is your favourite actor?
I like movies of Govinda and Sunil Shetty. However, I have not watched any movies in the last two years as I have to be in the line of duty. Hopefully, I will get an opportunity to watch a movie during my stint with Dabang Delhi this year.