PKL 2018 | My journey through the seasons of Pro Kabaddi League

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Puneri Paltan

PKL 2018 | My journey through the seasons of Pro Kabaddi League

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Girish Ernak

01/09/2019

A stadium filled with excitement, crowd cheering and chanting your name; and a rock-solid team standing behind your back and the honour of captaining Puneri Paltan! As a player, today I have everything, but it was not so from the beginning. During my childhood, I was mischievous and full of energy. 

It was my PT teacher, who introduced me to sports to channelize my energy efficiently. My PT teacher put my name for an interschool Kabaddi tournament. I was a bit surprised, I had no knowledge of this sport, and I had never played the game before. Once I played, I was absolutely mesmerised by Kabaddi and decided that I will continue playing this sport. 

To start with,I played for various school level and local tournaments then went on to play district level games and taking professional training lessons from Kalyan’s ‘Om Kabaddi Sangh’. Through this club, I had the opportunity to play many coveted tournaments, because of which my Kabaddi skills improved significantly. 

It was in 2014, with inception of the Pro Kabaddi League, the Indian Kabaddi scenario transformed and so did my life. India’s favourite Kabaddi player- Rakesh Kumar, who was also the then captain of Patna Pirates, recommended my name and I started my PKL career with them. It was a wonderful new experience for me. PKL had brought together the best of Kabaddi talent in India and it made for a wonderful viewing experience. I got to play along with and against some of the best Kabaddi talents in and outside India. I played as the left corner for Patna Pirates for season 1 and 2. 

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As the years progressed, I could see Kabaddi’s popularity soaring. Everyone in the country knows about Kabaddi, they have also played it in their childhood, but they never took it seriously. Pro Kabaddi League packed it in a way, which made it appealing to the masses across metros and rural areas as well! PKL became a great platform for all the undiscovered Kabaddi stars to showcase their talent. It was in season 3, when Bengal Warriors’ coach- Pratap Shetty took notice of my skills and offered me a job with my current employer Bharat Petroleum (BPCL). Simultaneously, I was roped in to Bengal Warriors and played with them for season 3 and season 4 of PKL. With each passing season, PKL became a household name, and Kabaddi players in the country got due recognition for the immense talent they possessed. 

In 2016, I was selected for the Kabaddi World Cup 2016 camp, but unfortunately, I could not make it to the final twelve. I was disappointed, but did not lose hope. I started practising harder and harder, and when it was time for Kabaddi masters in 2018, I made it to the national team. Donning the Indian jersey for the first time was a dream come true. I also represented India in the 2018 Asian games. 

In season 5, I was bought byPuneriPaltan, where I had the opportunity to be with some of the best Kabaddi talents in the country like Sandeep Narwal, Dharmaraj Cheralathan, Rajesh Mondal and Deepak Hooda. We had a good run in season 5, and even made it to the play-offs! By this time, Kabaddi became the second-most watched sport in the country. PKL gave Kabaddi the much-needed oomph factor. 

In season 6, the PuneriPaltan management honoured me with the responsibility of being the skipper of the side. It was indeed a proud moment for me. Although, it was my first stint as a captain in PKL, I had by my side some of the best Kabaddi talents throughout the season and we made some wonderful memories which all of us will cherish in the time to come! 

The season six of PKL is ending. Our team did not make it to the finale, but we sure played some nail biting and edge of the seat matches.I have learnt a lot during my PKL journey but the most important thing that I have learnt is to be disciplined, be grounded and always respect other players. The game is evolving and there is no lack of talent. I have learnt a lot from the young players in the league and I hope to keep reinventing myself.

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