Captain of Indian national kabaddi team, Deepak Niwas Hooda has credited the Pro Kabaddi League (PKL) for uplifting the age-old sport in the country, stating that the tournament helped the sport reach a greater audience.
Hooda, who has previously played for the likes of Telugu Titans and Puneri Paltan in PKL, has been leading Jaipur Pink Panthers since 2018. He said that although international kabaddi tournaments have been in existence for a long time, it is, in fact, PKL, which brought kabaddi closer to the fans.
"The actual growth of Kabaddi and that so many people know us, has happened after the Pro Kabaddi League. Earlier International tournaments like the Asian Games and the World cup used to take place but very few followed the game. People follow what is seen on TV," Deepak, who also is also the skipper of the Jaipur Pink Panthers in the PKL, said on Sports Tiger's show 'Building Bridge'.
The Pro Kabaddi League 2021 season was indefinitely postponed, but the sport is making a comeback on a national level. Speaking about it, Hooda said, "I feel good, we were waiting for Kabaddi to start. We were tired of just practising, we wanted to play Kabaddi. We were always at home, roaming inside or maybe on the terrace. We were missing the competition."
Hooda made his national team debut in 2016 and is a recipient of the prestigious Arjuna Award. Under his leadership, India won a gold medal at the 2019 South Asian Games. "For the 2019 South Asian Games, trials were on for team selection when it was decided that I will be the captain. Initially, for a player, just getting the Indian jersey is like a dream come true moment. Then getting medals in top tournaments like World Cup, Asian Games, when the national anthem plays after winning a gold medal, it is a very emotional moment. After that, being made the captain of the national team is a matter of great pride for me as well as for any player."
Feature image courtesy: Twitter / @DeepakHooda5555