Played as a reserve player for the first time and he decided… Never Again…
He never really played kabaddi. Only at the urging of a friend did he start playing kabaddi and got a place in his school team within a year. Playing for the school team, he had the opportunity to play in a national tournament. There was an incident in this tournament that changed his life. It was Rakesh Kumar who went on to become the captain of India. He recently explained what exactly happened during that tournament.
Speaking at an Instagram live session organized by Haryana Steelers, Rakesh said,
“I used to play kabaddi for the school team in 1997. At that time, the players who were selected to play in the national competitions used to get a nice kit. I made up my mind to get that kit. I was very happy when I was selected for the school national tournament.”
“As far as I can remember, we went to Baramati for the tournament. Our head coach went with the under-17 team and he sent another coach with our team. He had instructed his colleague to use me in starting seven for our team.
At that time I was playing as a right corner. When the time came to play in the match, our coach kept me as a reserve player. Of course, I felt very bad. Despite being instructed by the head coach, I was kept as a reserve player. At that time, once again, my friend came to my help. He consoled me saying probably it was our first tournament hence we were kept as reserve players.”
“During that tournament, I decided that I would never again be a reserve player. From then until the very end of my career, I played in the starting seven forever, except for the injury time.”
Going forward, Rakesh won the World Cup twice from India. He also won a gold medal at the Asian Games. Rakesh had the biggest bid in the first season of Pro Kabaddi. He is currently working as the coach of Haryana Steelers.