The 67th Senior National Kabaddi Championship has got underway in Jaipur. Throughout its rich history, India’s premier inter-State competition has been graced by some of best players to play the sport and one of them — Anup Kumar — will be following it closely this time.

Anup enjoyed a stellar career with accolades aplenty. Right from an early age, Anup had the aim of participating in the senior nationals. Underlining the value of the competition, he said, “The senior nationals has always been among the most important competitions in the Indian kabaddi calendar. It is an opportunity to play with and against the country’s best kabaddi players and train under the top coaches in the sport and hence it was extremely necessary for me to participate in this competition to further my career,” Anup said.

While he always had the talent to rub shoulders with the top names in the sport, Anup had to stay patient for his opportunity to play at the national level. “During my early days, I wasn’t able to participate in the school nationals or even the junior nationals owing to one reason or another. I finally got my chance to play in the senior nationals in 2005 and I was very excited by the opportunity,” he recalled.

‘Motivational boost’

“I had to wait a good eight years for my chance to play at the national level and to be presented with the opportunity to play in the senior nationals alongside players whom I looked up to. It was not only a huge motivational boost, but also something that I took great pride in. So, throughout my playing career, I was always excited to participate and play in this competition,” Anup said.

Soon after Anup retired from kabaddi, he took over coach of Pro Kabaddi League team Puneri Paltan. This has given him a new reason to follow the senior nationals closely. “The talent pool in this competition is very deep. The best players in the country are competing against each other. This gives the younger players an opportunity to showcase their skills and their talent, which could see them make the leap to Pro Kabaddi,” he concluded.