Pro Kabaddi League, Season 6: 'Important for me to both defend and attack as a Puneri Paltan player,' says Nitin Tomar
Tomar grew up in a family of sportspersons. With two of his uncles, Shokendra Tomar and Rajiv Tomar (also Arjuna Award winners), being professional wrestlers, young Nitin wanted to follow in their footsteps. However, he had to wave goodbye to wrestling due to the lack of resources and infrastructure in his school which eventually led him to give Kabaddi a shot, and the rest, as they say, is history!
Nitin won a gold medal playing for Uttar Pradesh at the Junior Nationals back in 2011, aged only sixteen. Being a part of the Indian Navy earlier on, he impressed a number of scouts from various teams during local tournaments, after which he started to get noticed for his talent. The match that saw his career graph go through the roof came in 2016 during the Kabaddi World Cup when the Malakpur-born athlete turned the game around in his team's favour. He guided team India to victory by scoring two highly crucial points, coming from behind and beating Iran 38-29 to clinch the title.
Having represented top sides such as UP Yoddha, Bengal Warriors and Puneri Paltan in the ProKabaddi League, Nitin Tomar is training hard with the Indian Navy team during his off-season time. Read on to learn more about the raider’s take on the toughest defenders in the league, Anup Kumar being dropped from the Indian Kabaddi camp, young talent in Kabaddi and more…
Speaking about how he spends his off-season time, Nitin revealed he has been preparing for the Indian Navy camp in Colaba, Mumbai, and is fully focussed on training hard. Balancing between spending time with family on rest days and keeping in shape for future tournaments, Tomar explained how the competition to get in the starting seven is becoming tighter by the day.
Q1. India claimed a comfortable 18-point victory against Iran in Dubai recently. Are you surprised that the win came so easily?
Nitin: I was not a part of the playing team but when we were training at the national camp, we were working very well as a unit. I always felt like no team can beat team India as we are very strong and work well together.
Q2. Puneri Paltan signed you for a whopping sum of Rs 115 lacs (Rs 1.15 crore). Do you think you will be the captain? Are you ready for the leadership role?
Nitin: It is highly motivating to see such a high bid for my name. As for the captainship, let’s see how that goes. There are many players like Rajesh Mondal and other seniors in our side who are more than capable to lead the team. The decision belongs to the management entirely. As a player, my job is to play and perform well for my team.
Q3. During the last season, we saw you were playing a lot of defence along with playing your natural raider position. Which role are you focusing on more right now? Which one do you enjoy more?
Nitin: I am focusing equally on both roles. As a player, it is important for me to be prepared to defend as well as attack, as per the requirement of the situation the team is in. I am comfortable playing in either of the positions, although I enjoy attacking more since I have been a raider naturally since the beginning.
Q4. Former Kabaddi team captain, Anup Kumar has been an integral part of the Indian side but he was recently dropped from the National camp. How do you feel about that? Can we say that Kabaddi is becoming a youngsters’ game?
Nitin: Absolutely. Kabaddi has advanced as a sport globally and it is only progressing further. The competition is becoming more and more fierce and the ones who are performing well obviously deserve to be rewarded and given an opportunity of being called up to play for India. We always want strong players to be a part of the team and that’s the aim.
Q5. What part of your game are you focusing on more during your off-season training preparations these days?
Nitin: I am working to eliminate all my weaknesses. With help from our coaches, we sit and analyze all weak points and the mistakes we make during the season and try and work on those in order to improve and do better in the future.
Q6. How important is it for you to be training for the Indian Navy team during the off season time?
Nitin: It is always important to be in shape. The Indian Navy camp is always on during off-season and competing in local tournaments, representing the Navy is always an advantage for my game.
Q7. Do you focus on new players and the kind of techniques that they bring to the sport?
Nitin: We always observe new players who are coming in Kabaddi. Each one of them has immense talent and is performing very well. Playing in various local tournaments helps a lot in learning more about different players’ games, and their mindsets.
Q8. Pune have had a very strong team in the Pro Kabaddi League but have not won the title yet. What do you think is the missing element for them?
Nitin: Players have always given their 100%. We can only try to do better. We all need to be optimistic and maintain a positive mindset. Just because Pune has not won the title yet, it does not mean we cannot win in the future. We will give our best performance and we will not give up.
Q9. There is so much talent in India for Kabaddi. How difficult is it to break into the first seven of the team?
Nitin: It is extremely difficult. There is cut-throat competition. All the players are working hard and want to be a part of the starting seven but obviously, everyone cannot be included. Whichever player is given an opportunity to start the game ensures that he gives it everything he has got. We all want to do well.
Q10. You have faced Fazel Atrachali a few times in your career. Why do you think raiders have such a difficult time against him?
Nitin: Fazel [Atrachali] plays a lot of tournaments for his country in Asia and even outside which gives him a lot of experience and exposure to different players’ games. His experience gives him an upper hand in his game against his opponents and that is why it is difficult for players to read his game.
Q11. The Pro Kabaddi League has abundant talent. Name one defender you have faced who has given you the toughest time while raiding.
Nitin: There are a lot of good defenders in the league. Mohit Chillar and Surender Nada are two top quality defenders that I have faced. But there are so many good players, one can’t really compare.