Kabaddi: Leaving behind tragic past, Rohit keen on justifying hefty price tag

Rohit Kumar of Patna Pirates trying the scorpion kick against Bengaluru BullsNew Delhi: Pro-Kabaddi League (PKL) franchise Bengaluru Bulls' player Rohit Kumar, who was in the limelight for all the wrong reasons not so long ago, wants to put behind the tragic incidents of his life and is aiming to live up to his price-tag of Rs 81 lakh which he grabbed in the recent auctions here.

Rohit, who was born in the village of Nizampur in Haryana, was the second-costliest player to be bought. Raider Nitin Tomar -- bought for a whopping Rs 93 lakh by GMR-owned Team Uttar Pradesh -- emerged as the costliest player to be bought in the PKL auction.

But last year, life seemed to go all topsy-turvy for the 27-year-old national-level player as he was arrested in connection with the suicide by his wife Lalita, who had accused him and her in-laws of harassment.

"I am focusing on the upcoming season. I believe in moving forward and giving my best. I have trained very hard. I am a good raider and believe in doing my best in gaining bonus points for my team. I also give my best as a defender," Rohit told IANS.

Given his humble background, Rohit has done what many people only dream of. He played for Patna Pirates in the third edition of the PKL and became the first player after Indian skipper Anup Kumar to win the Most Valuable Player (MVP) award in his debut season.

When questioned about how it feels to be the second-highest paid player in the auction, an elated Rohit said that he was happy to see the growth of the game.

The first auction of the league was held in 2014, with former India captain Rakesh Kumar being the most expensive player at Rs 12.8 lakh.

"It is extremely exhilarating not only because of the monetary value, but also because I feel like I've been recognised and rewarded for all the years of effort I've put into this sport," Rohit, who was drafted in to represent India at the 2016 South Asian Games, said.

"Secondly, this also shows the growth potential in a sport like kabaddi which was not very well-recognised by the urban population in India before the launch of the pro-kabaddi league," he added.

Kabaddi, which originated in south Asia, is a physically demanding sport. It is a mix of tag, wrestling, rugby and chanting and needs players to have presence of mind and a tough body.

Commenting on his training and diet, Rohit said: "Kabaddi indeed is a very demanding sport. Whether you are a raider or a defender one has to repeatedly make an effort at honing their skills and techniques in the sport thus continuous practice is important. But along with practice prevention of injury is another important aspect. Since kabaddi is quite a rash sport, players tend to get injured too soon."

"Thus, strength training is extremely important to be less susceptible to injuries. Apart from practice and strength training, I also I make sure I do agility training because speed and reflex actions are an important aspect of kabaddi. Apart from this, I also make sure I take care of my diet. I'm very strict with my diet while training," he added.

"While I'm training, I make sure I include a lot of proteins in my diet and stay away from junk food. So it's a complete no-no to junk food and food that is high in starch while training."

Rohit also advised young players to train hard and get associated with grassroot-level programmes to improve their skills.

"I would advise them to train hard, stay true to the sport. Also, I think it's a great time to take up a sport like kabaddi because with the launch of the pro-kabaddi league and grassroot-level programmes like Redbull Tashan," said Rohit whose team Bengaluru have associated with Redbull Tashan, which seeks to help in nurturing the talent.