India's World Cup-winning kabaddi team captain Anup Kumar wants his only son, Kunal, to earn more glory than him by representing India at the Olympics in the future. Nine-year-old Kunal, a Class III student, is learning the kabaddi ropes in their hometown of Palra in Haryana's Gurgaon district.
"Kunal practises regularly and does a lot of running as part of his training. We even play kabaddi together at home. I want to see my son become a much better player than me.
"At his age, I never played this game; I started playing kabaddi only at 15," Anup Kumar told mid-day on the sidelines of the Pro Kabaddi Season Five schedule announcement in Mumbai yesterday.
Although Anup is keen on Kunal's development, he insists that he won't force the boy into the game. "I won't stop him from concentrating on academics. He is an average student and I think he will focus on kabaddi. But yes, he is more clever than me in studies," said Anup, who graduated from Open University.
"Kunal is a very passionate kid, who loves this sport. He knows the names of 25 to 30 prominent current players and the skills they possess. If it's a defender, he knows how he holds a player's ankle, and if he's a raider, he knows how he earns bonus points through various tricks. He enjoyed the live coverage of games as well as the repeat telecasts at night," said Anup.
The India raider, who represents Pro Kabaddi franchise U Mumba, is also optimistic about kabaddi's Olympics debut in the next 10 years. He also dreams of Kunal representing India at the Olympics. "I think it will take another eight to 10 years for kabaddi to become an Olympic sport. I wish that day comes soon. By that time, Kunal could be a bigger player than me," said the 33-year-old, who was a member of the Indian team that won Asian Games gold medal in 2010 and 2014.
The fifth edition of the Pro Kabaddi League will kick off on July 28 in Hyderabad. The 13-week long, 12-team tournament will feature four new teams that will play a total of 138 matches.