PKL 2019 | I want to see kabaddi as an Olympic sport, says Nitin Tomar

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PKL 2019 | I want to see kabaddi as an Olympic sport, says Nitin Tomar

Nitin Tomar has expressed his eagerness to see kabaddi as an Olympic sport as soon as possible and wants to represent India as an Olympian in near future. The Puneri Paltan raider has opened up about his and the team’s expectations from PKL season 6 in an exclusive interview with SportsCafe.

Kabaddi as a sport has certainly gained a lot of popularity around the globe since the inception of the Pro Kabaddi League in 2014. Players from many other countries apart from the subcontinent are now a part of the league and countries like Iran and Korea are doing well in the multi-nation tournaments as well. Both Iran and Korea managed to beat India at the Asian Games earlier this year which proves that the game is getting acceptance in many different countries.

Young Indian raider Nitin Tomar is hoping to represent India at the Olympics in near future and wants the indigenous sport of kabaddi to be an integral part of it. Tomar, who has won the Kabaddi World Cup in 2016 with the Indian team, aims at cementing his place in the squad for the future tournaments by giving his best in PKL and Senior National Competitions.

Speaking to SportsCafe over the phone, Tomar said, “PKL has made kabaddi a popular sport and now many people recognise us which is a great thing. I want to see kabaddi in the Olympics with me being a part of the Indian contingent in near future. That will give us a lot of happiness and make the sport even more popular throughout the world.”

India lost to Iran in the semi-final of the Asian Games after losing to Korea in the group stage. Tomar was not a part of the Indian side for the Games despite having represented India in the 2016 World Cup and 2017 Asian Kabaddi Championship.

When asked about him missing out for the Games, he replied, “I was not disappointed after missing the bus for the Asian Games. It is the decision of the selectors to pick the perfect team for a particular tournament and they gave their best by selecting the best players available during that time. I think there must be some flaws in my game that I didn’t get a chance for the Asian Games.”

Keeping his non-selection in the Indian squad for two major events behind, Tomar has done well for his new team Puneri Paltan this season. He is their most dependable raider and with 81 raid points from eight matches, he is also the Best Raider in the season so far. The 23-year-old believes that he has got some good players to support him in the raiding department of the Pune team. Although experienced players like Rajesh Mondal and GB More haven’t done that well, the defence has come to the rescue of the team whenever Tomar is off the mat for a considerable period of time. It has been observed that whenever Tomar is off the mat, the Pune’s raiding department fails miserably to have an impact in the game. In their recent home game against Jaipur Pink Panthers, Tomar managed only one touch point in the entire match and it as their defensive unit which affected six Super Tackles in that game to ensure a victory against the season 1 champions.

“Mondal and More are very good raiders but unfortunately they haven't performed well so far in the sixth season. We have many games to go and they will certainly make a comeback. They need to work hard for the upcoming games and youngsters like Deepak (Dahiya) and Akshay Jadhav are also there who have done a decent job as substitutes whenever required,” informed Tomar.

“Good thing for us is that whenever the raiding department fails, our strong defence is putting up a good show and scoring crucial points for the team. Both the departments are complimenting each other really well. When I am off the mat, other players are trying hard to get me back on the mat and that is what team game is all about.”

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Pune’s coach Ashan Kumar had mentioned that they roped in Tomar as they wanted a good raider in the team who could raid from the left. Tomar has been very effective in that so far but his performance against quality right corner defenders will be judged during the course of this three-month-long tournament. He wasn’t effective at all in the game against Jaipur Pink Panthers which has international right corner Mohit Chhillar in their side.

When asked about whether he prepares for an elite right corner in a different way, Tomar replied, “I don’t think who is in front of me whether it is Mohit Chhillar or Abozar. Ashan Sir has adviced me not to think about the defenders who are in the other team, he may be Mohit or Abozar or even Fazel. I play without any pressure when I go in to raid. It is all about me doing well in my department and that is where I can earn more points for my team and nothing else.”

Tomar had represented Uttar Pradesh at the junior nationals and then he went on to play for the senior state team before landing up with a job in the Indian Navy which gave him a chance to play for the Services. He won the senior national title with the Services side in 2016. With an experience of winning tournaments both in the domestic and international circuits, Tomar feels that Puneri Paltan has a great chance of winning the title in PKL this season. 

“We have a well balanced side with Ashan Sir as the helm and Girish as the skipper which has kept the team together. I am giving my 100% and the team is helping me out as well. Our aim is to be the champions in this season and we are working together towards our common goal of winning the trophy. I am hopeful of finishing as the Best Raider of the tournament and want Girish to get the award of Best Defender,” said Tomar.

“We don’t take any team for granted in PKL. All teams are good in the league as the franchises have tried to rope in the best players, so, we think the team in front of us is a strong one. We make strategies for all the teams and study their performances prior to our games against them.”

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