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The Puneri Paltan’s New Young Player Sandeep describes his journey from a tiny village in Haryana to the glitz and glamour of the Pro Kabaddi Challenge.
The 19-year old Sandeep’s kabaddi journey began in the muddy grounds of Kathura in the suburbs of Sonipat, Haryana. After a short stint with wrestling, Sandeep began playing kabaddi at a very young age following the footsteps of his cousin Sandeep Narwal. “Sandeep Narwal suggested me to take up Kabaddi since he saw the spark in me. Since then, I have been practicing Kabaddi.”
Journey to PKL
Despite his obvious talent in the sport, though, his parents were not a big fan of Sandeep taking it up seriously. “My father and Chacha were against Kabaddi and used to say, “Kuch nahi hoga Kabaddi mai. Mitti ka khel hai, mitti mai hi reh jaana hai,” he said. Sandeep, who played in an attacking role, continued playing during his school days and earned a spot in the youth setup at SAI Gandhinagar where he trained under coachJayvir Sharma whom he considers as a father figure Each franchise can nominate new young players before every season’s auction. Sandeep Narwal suggested his name to Puneri Paltan franchise. After seeing his performance in trials, the Pune franchise chose him to play for Season 6. Sandeep tells that the team have had intensive training sessions, both fitness and mat practice. “We have fitness sessions in the morning for two hours and in the evening, we have mat practice. We also had an only fitness camp with Puneri Paltan in Goa for 15 days.”
‘One must know the tricks of both defending and raiding’
When asked if he had any pre-match rituals, Sandeep said, “This is the first time that I will play PKL. However, in local tournaments, I used to pray to God before stepping onto the mat/ground.” For Sandeep, ‘One cannot define which is difficult between raiding and defending,’ but he emphasize ‘if one wants to grow as a player then they must know the tricks and tactics of both defending and raiding, It also helps a lot in crunch situations when your team is facing an all-out.’ Sandeep speaks highly of Ashan Kumar, Puneri Paltan head coach and the bond that he shared with the players. "He spoke to all of us players like we were his brothers. We never felt a sense of any formalities with him; he was just like my SAI coach – a father figure to me.”
Plenty of time to fulfil his potential
A well-knit dressing room is critical to a team's success and Puneri Paltan was just that as Sandeep reminisces. "Our captain Girish Ernak was the leader in the dressing room and held the team together through thick and thin. Even Nitin Tomar showed great leadership quality." Sandeep also believes that India’s Asian Games defeat to Iran is just part and parcel of the game and the team should learn from the loss and work on to it to make themselves better. “ Yes, it is true that we have dominated Kabaddi so far but looking at the brighter side, Kabaddi is now being played competitively at international level which is a great sign for any sport to develop. Since this is his first season, Sandeep has a long way to go and admitted there is still plenty of adapting to do as he states, ‘I wants to perform to the best of abilities,’ and true to that the hard working youngster still at the age of 19, still has plenty of time to fulfil his potentials, just like Sandeep Narwal.
Favourite Movie – Apne, 2007
Favourite song - All Punjabi songs
Your favourite movie Quote – Nayak nahi Khalnayak Hoon Maifrom Khal Nayak
Role model – Sandeep Narwal