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From army trial to becoming a PKL lakhpati: Know Arjun Deshwal’s journey as a kabaddi player

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Arjun Deshwal is an Indian kabaddi player who plays for the Jaipur Pink Panthers team in Pro Kabaddi and represents Services in Senior National Kabaddi Championship. He is currently the third-most most expensive player in Pro Kabaddi Season 8 at INR 96 lakhs. 

Role of guru in shaping career

Arjun Deshwal was born on July 7, 1999, at the Basera village in Muzaffarnagar in Uttar Pradesh. Ever since his childhood, Arjun was fond of playing various sports although he indulged in cricket the most in his early years. It was only later after his guru started guiding him and developing his skills, did Arjun grow an interest in kabaddi. 

“Since a young age I was fond of playing different sports but my family actually pushed me into kabaddi,” Arjun Deshwal said in an interview with Lallantop Sports. 

“I didn’t like playing kabaddi initially and used to go to the ground nearby my house and play cricket there. My guru who belonged to my family then slowly started working on my kabaddi skills. He was the one who had faith in my abilities and backed me to do well.” 

From there on, Arjun hasn’t looked back and has managed to rise through the ranks from district to state level before announcing his arrival in the sport’s grandest stage - Pro Kabaddi.

Entering the world’s biggest league - Pro Kabaddi 

His big breakthrough, though, came somewhat via chance. At the age of 18, Arjun Deshwal went to Roorkee in Uttarakhand for an army trial. While at the trial, he impressed everyone with his performances and even joined the army under the kabaddi sports quota. And it was his stint with the army where he discovered how he can enroll in Pro Kabaddi. 

“No one from my village had earlier featured in Pro Kabaddi. I had earlier represented UP in Senior Nationals but the job offer by the army is where I actually came to know about the registration process for the Pro Kabaddi auction.” 

As things turned out, Arjun Deshwal was signed by U Mumba for INR 8 lakhs in the Pro Kabaddi Season 6 auction. However, an injury meant he could play just three matches in his debut Pro Kabaddi season. 

The following year, Arjun featured more regularly for U Mumba and returned with 109 raid points from 19 matches. Although his performances were far from exemplary, his performances didn’t go unnoticed. 

The young raider, in fact, had done enough to earn plaudits within kabaddi circles for his exceptional raiding skills and was earmarked as one for the future.  

Transformation to a household name and lakhpati

The Pro Kabaddi Season 8 auction saw teams breaking the bank on Arjun Deshwal. Eventually, it was Jaipur Pink Panthers who managed to snap the former U Mumba player for a whopping INR 96 lakhs, close to four times his previous season price.  

“Before the lockdown, I had done well for Services in Senior National Kabaddi Championship in 2019. U Mumba were interested in retaining me (ahead of Season 8) but my family insisted to try registering for the auction instead. I was initially nervous since it was the first time I was entering an auction pool not knowing what to expect. I was confident of the auction panning out well but never had I imagined to go for that much money (INR 96 lakhs).”

By the end of the three-day auction, Arjun Deshwal emerged as the third-most-expensive player in Pro Kabaddi Season 8. 

Destined to achieve greatness

A big and productive season with Jaipur Pink Panthers in Pro Kabaddi Season 8 has now put Arjun in contention for the national reckoning alongside some of the finest talents of the country.

However, the mark of true champions are cemented through the consistency of their performances and it remains to be seen how Arjun sustains his displays with the blinding lights and the pressure associated with the sport. That said, it’s worth remembering that he’s a player with the world at his feet and an abundance of confidence in his own ability.

And since self-belief and talent are both pre-requisites for any athlete to live up to his or her billing, there isn’t any reason why Arjun shouldn’t be considered PKL’s next star in making. After all, it wasn’t so long ago that even the likes of Pardeep Narwal, Pawan Sehrawat and Naveen Kumar were relative nobodies and found themselves in a similar place to where Arjun is at now.

Arjun Deshwal Pro Kabaddi statistics

Pro Kabaddi Season

Team

Auction Price

Matches

Raid points

Season 6

U Mumba

INR 8 lakhs

3

4

Season 7

U Mumba

INR 19.46 lakhs (retained)

19

109

Season 8

Jaipur Pink Panthers

INR 96 lakhs

22

267

Author: Kaustubh Potdar

Featured photo: Pro Kabaddi

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