PKL star Deepak Hooda: I have drawn inspiration from my struggle

Updated: Jul 16, 2020, 14:22 IST | mid-day online correspondent | Mumbai

Pro Kabaddi League player Deepak Hooda exclusively on Pro Kabaddi's Instagram Live chat show, Beyond The Mat, talks about his struggles, game approach and mindset

Deepak Hooda, the current captain of the Indian national kabaddi team and one of the most experienced players in the vivo Pro Kabaddi League, has been a constant source of inspiration for the new generation of kabaddi players.

The 26-year-old all-rounder, known for his impeccable raiding skills, has been a force to reckon with in the minds of the opposition whenever he launches for a raid. However, behind all the euphoria of his success has been a backdrop of constant struggle in his early days, something that Hooda, who was bought by Telugu Titans in the inaugural PKL season, admits has been a source of inspiration for him.

Speaking exclusively on vivo Pro Kabaddi’s Instagram Live chat show, ‘Beyond The Mat’, Deepak Hooda said, “I have witnessed a lot of tough times throughout my career, and I have drawn inspiration from my struggle. Tough times gave me the strength to improve my life and support my family. When I came to Air India, Ajay Thakur motivated me very much.”

Hooda made his international debut during the 2016 South Asian Games and made an instant impact as the side clinched gold in kabaddi. Known to lead by example, Deepak Hooda spoke about the rallies behind his team even when the going gets tough. “Being a captain is a big responsibility as you need to unify the young and senior players and make them not only play together but win matches as well. When we lose a match, motivating your team during this situation is one of the key characteristics of a leader which is a big responsibility. I have seen this in my seniors! At first, I played under Anup Kumar in the Indian team, then I played under Ajay Thakur. I have been leading a team in the PKL since a few years, which has given me a perspective on how to manage a team and how to motivate the team during tough times,” he said.

Being an all-rounder, Deepak is proficient with both, raiding and defending. However, asked to choose one, he said, “I like both, defence and raiding, but I like raiding a bit more. I also like defence because for a lot of years I was playing as a cover for India and in the PKL till the second season.”

During the show, Deepak revealed that he approaches defending thinking like a raider and offered few defending techniques that will help kabaddi aspirants. “I dive a lot and if you want to dive, then you should be flexible, and you need to practice a lot. You can’t just get up one day and think that you can perform a dive. You need a lot of match practice as there are a lot of hits and misses when it comes to diving,” he signed off.

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