The Indian kabaddi team had a successful outing in the 13th South Asian Games, clinching a 10th gold medal in the kabaddi event. The team led by Deepak Niwas Hooda remained unbeaten in the group stages and eventually beat Sri Lanka by a 51-18 margin to add another medal to the country's tally.
Naveen Kumar, who finished as the MVP of PKL 7 earned his maiden stint with the senior national team following a remarkable year in which he took Dabang Delhi K.C. to the maiden summit clash appearance and also led the Services team to the finals of the 66th Senior Nationals.
Naveen has been sensational right from his debut season when he took Dabang Delhi to the playoffs for the first time in PKL history with 177 points. The young prodigy went berserk in the next season with 22 Super-10s, which remains the most by any raider in a single edition of Pro Kabaddi.
Scoring 21 out of them consecutively, Naveen contributed 56.58% of his team's raid points, scoring 301 raid points in 23 matches in the recent season. His ability to stage comebacks by scoring consistent raid points has seen the youngster evolve as a complete raider.
Naveen has achieved milestones in a short span, which made him a definite pick in the Indian Kabaddi team for the South Asian Games this year. He led the offence on multiple occasions and led the attack upfront along with star-raiders like Pardeep Narwal and Pawan Sehrawat in the competition.
Sportskeeda spoke to the 'Dabang Express' in an exclusive chat in regards to his experience representing India and winning a gold medal for his country.
SK: It was your first time playing for India. How was your overall experience?
It was a memorable experience for me in my very first outing. Glad that I was a part of the Indian team, where I got to play against players from different countries. Playing under the guidance of senior coaches helped me to learn and adapt to new techniques.
SK: What differences did you find in playing in the Pro Kabaddi League and playing for India?
Every kabaddi player desires to represent his country at an international stage. You play for a franchise in the Pro Kabaddi. However, playing in India is a matter of pride where you represent your nation in an international platform to make your country proud. You compete against several players with different ethnicities and cultures while performing in any international event.
SK: In such a star-studded raiding line up, with whom did you find it easy to raid along?
I was comfortable with all of them since I had to deliver my 100% on the mat. There were star-studded raiders like Pawan, Pardeep, Vikash, and Deepak, and I had the confidence that they would revive me if I got out.
However, I did enjoy raiding along with Pawan (Sehrawat) in the gold-medal match against Sri Lanka. We both scored raid points consistently, which helped us to win the final by a healthy margin.
SK: What are your thoughts on Deepak Niwas Hooda as the captain of the Indian Kabaddi team?
Deepak (Hooda) is an experienced campaigner, having represented India on multiple occasions. He led the young team very well, and he kept motivating us to perform well and give our full efforts in the matches. It was a delight to play under his captaincy.
SK: Describe your feeling of winning the gold medal for India.
Winning the gold medal for my country was the most memorable moment of my life. All the players were quite young, so it was a matter of pride for not only us but our parents as well. Such a feeling is indescribable, but it tends you keep motivated for the upcoming events.Published 17 Dec 2019, 07:14 IST