While it has been a topsy-turvy season for Haryana Steelers so far in the ongoing Pro Kabaddi League Season 9, their recent win over the in-form Bengaluru Bulls earlier this week has reignited hopes for the fans.
Being led by defensive maestro Manpreet Singh as head coach, and the veteran defender Joginder Narwal as captain, the JSW Sports-owned franchise has delivered the goods with their defensive unit.
Even though Joginder has not been an active player on the mat for the past few games, he is often seen advising instructions to his players during a match. In his absence, all-rounder Nitin Rawal has been donning the captain’s armband for Haryana, and he has already become a key player for the team in both departments.
Joginder on Thursday lauded Rawal for his contribution to the team. “Nitin Rawal is an excellent player. When we make our plans before the match, we tell him that he needs to stay on the mat as he is also a raider, and is key to our plans,” Joginder said.
Asked about how the Pro Kabaddi League has evolved the sport over the past decade, Joginder said that now people belonging to all sections of society are becoming keen to pick up the sport.
“Kabaddi was a sport for the village. It is still the same today, but the Pro Kabaddi League has given much more recognition to the sport and popularised it among the youth. Today, even more people across all towns, villages and streets are picking up this sport,” he said.
“Educated families in the past used to be scared that this sport is to be played in the mud and their young ones might get injured. But, now their kids are also picking up their sport with full family support, which is great for us and the sport of kabaddi,” he added.
Quizzed about the glamour of the league potentially becoming a distraction for young kabaddi players, Joginder reminded the room that each and every player is bound to the mud.
“Regarding the glamour of Pro Kabaddi League, I don’t feel that it distracts any player from the sport. All of us players know that it is through the sport they have to provide for their families. The players deserve to get the name and fame they have received through the league, but the love and reverence of the sport still remain intact for each and everyone,” the Steelers captain said.
“No one feels like that just because people know them now, they are super stars. All of us athletes are bound by the mud and we will remain bound to the mud,” he signed off.
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