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Gruelling practice sessions, followed by extensive analysis, have been the order of the day for the Puneri Paltan’s defender Vinod Kumar, who started playing PKL from season 3 onwards in Patna Pirates. Which happened to be his turning point of life and in season 4 and season 5, he played from Telugu Titans before moving to Pune side with an aim ‘to perform better than last season and up my game,’ says Vinod Kumar.
Growing up in Sonipat, Haryana, a city that has dished out more medallists for the sport, Vinod picked up the sport while still in school and he naturally got inclined towards sports from a young age. The continuous exposure to competition coupled with his hard work ultimately propelled him to ply his trade in the PKL.
Vinod credits his mother for financially supporting his early kabaddi pursuits, “My Mama was the one who backed me up and motivated me to take up Kabaddi professionally and also ensured that I excelled at the sport,” he said.
The 21-year-old also credits his training day at in Narwal Sports Academy by saying, “The coaches at the academy have helped me sharpen my skills and tactics. My village has produced about 20 players who have played in PKL.” The team has been practising hard to ensure they qualify for the playoffs this year. When asked what motivated him to play the sport, he says, “Fitness is very important. So, I concentrate on fitness in the morning and in the evening do mat practice. We are training hard on concentrating more on our strength and conditioning exercises.”
Their coach, Mr Ashan Kumar has been instrumental in refining the team’s skills. On being asked about working experience with his, Vinod says, “Ashan sir is strict but only when it comes to Kabaddi and practice otherwise he is like a friend cum mentor to me who always guides me to the correct decision be it in Kabaddi or in life.” The Puneri Paltan defender also believes that India’s Asian Games defeat to Iran is a primary example of kabaddi is getting more competitive. “It’s sad to see India’s dominance in Kabaddi come to an end however in a way, it’s good that the sport is making way into other countries.” Being a defender, Vinod was not merely thinking about his own performance but the team’s as a whole. When asked – which is more difficult – defending or ride, he replies, “Since I am primarily a defender, for me raiding is a bit difficult however I am trying to develop raiding skills as well.” When asked about expectations of Puneri Paltan this season, he says that every team is strong, and ‘one cannot say that this particular team is weak or strong until we meet on the mat.’ This season team looks well equipped to tackle their opponents to qualify for the playoffs after months and months of practice. But as of now, the teams’ focus is to win the game against Patna Pirates on December 7, Sunday.
Favourite Movie – Milenge Milenge
Favourite actress – Aishwarya Rai Bachchan
Favourite cheat meal – I don’t cheat
Favourite song – I like all Punjabi & Haryanvi songs
Best friend in Puneri Paltan – Rinku
Role model – Ronaldo, Anup Kumar