Venturing in to India’s kabaddi hotbed - Sonepat
“Our village has produced most medal winners at the international level in kabaddi,” thus claimed Surjeet Narwal. A stalwart in his own right, the 24-year-old has been a regular in the national team for 5 years now and was part of the victorious squad from the Incheon Asian Games last year. He as is apparent from the aforementioned, is just one of a multitude of players who hail from this district called Sonepat in Haryana and are excelling in the sport currently.
During a freewheeling chat with SportsKeeda, Narwal added how he thought the village and his upbringing there had a lot to do with him getting initiated into the sport in the first place, “We have a culture there. The whole of Sonepat is filled with Kabaddi clubs and that harbours really healthy competition.”
Asked how the place has responded to the phenomenon that Pro Kabaddi League (PKL) is, he added, “The 1st edition of the PKL took us all by surprise. I really didn’t envision this kind of success and it’s almost a little overwhelming, how the masses have taken to our sport over such a short period of time. Earlier kids in our village aspired to play for the national team, suddenly a much bigger chunk wants to play in the league. It has definitely proved to be a boon for our sport.”
Also from Sonepat is current Dabang Delhi captain Ravinder Pahal. He too emphasised on how it helped to hail from such an affluent set up for the otherwise neglected sport, “It obviously helped me a lot. Whenever I would want to go and play, there would always be 20 boys ready to do the same. Seldom do we come across similar interest in other parts of the country.
“These days in fact, during PKL, people gather in massive numbers to watch the games together in clubs and fields. Kabaddi takes over other popular pastimes like cricket and movies during these 2 months and that’s very heartening.”
Heartening it is indeed, for a host of our stars from the current season of the league have emerged out of this very place and what Surjeet had mentioned might be true afterall, “A team from Sonepat can beat any team from the PKL.”