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Pro Kabaddi 2021 | Haryana Steelers' Rakesh Kumar opens up on adjustments he made to become a coach

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A file image of coach Rakesh Kumar.


Pro Kabaddi 2021 | Haryana Steelers' Rakesh Kumar opens up on adjustments he made to become a coach

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SportsCafe Desk


Team Haryana Steelers were included in the Pro Kabaddi League in 2017, and they went on to make it to the payoffs that very season. Post that, in 2018, they ended last on the points table, while in 2019, under coach Rakesh Kumar, they once again managed to make it to the knockouts of the tournament.

The former India captain, Rakesh talks about his journey from a player to the coach.

"My journey from a player to analyst and then to a head coach happened very quickly. I worked as an analyst for a year after retiring as a player and then donned the coaching hat for Haryana Steelers in the very next year. Coaching is very different from playing the sport. To be honest, being a coach has helped me develop as an individual. It has shown me a side of mine, which I did not know existed," Kumar told The Bridge.

He also went on to say, that there is a big difference in the motivation factor of a coach and a player. "As a player, I was always focused on giving my best on the mat and taking my team to a victory. That was my sole motivation. But, as a coach it is different. Yes, winning is still important to me but as a coach, the main motivation for me is to bring the team together as one family."

Of course, the transition from a player to a coach was not that easy for the 38-year-old. "When I was appointed as the head coach for Haryana Steelers, my coaching experience was zero. I did not know anything about it as I had spent my entire life just playing. It took me some time to adjust to the role. The responsibilities as a coach are immense. I spoke to quite a few senior coaches on how they go about things to get a better understanding of my role. I am still not perfect and am currently finding ways to improve as a coach." 

The team seems to possess the right blend of youth and experience, and handling the players can be a difficult task. To this Rakesh said, "My funda is pretty simple. I focus more on the youngsters. You do not need to go and tell someone like Surender Nada or Rohit Gulia what to do. They know their game and have been playing for years. For someone like Meetu or Jaideep, it is about giving them the required confidence and helping them in keeping their emotions under control. As a young player, you are impulsive – even I was (laughs). My job here is to just remind them not to get carried away with emotions if they put in a great raid or make a stunning tackle."

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