Nitin Tomar: Franchisees to make bids of Rs. one crore next season

The UP Yoddha raider recognises the good exposure of kabaddi with the Pro Kabaddi League.

Nitin Tomar... “We forget all pressure once we get into a game.”   -  G. Viswanath

Nitin Tomar played a big part in India’s Kabaddi World Cup win last year, including the final against Iran and his sparkling display did not go unnoticed.

As a raider, Tomar had won some big points. When Pro Kabaddi was expanded to 12 teams, the Uttar Pradesh franchise GMR League Games bought his services at a record fee of Rs. 93 lakh. Coming into the fifth season with 115 raid points, the 22-year-old Tomar added another 26 in the four matches he has played for UP Yoddha, and his team won three out of the four Zone B matches.

Talking to Sportstar on Sunday, Tomar said Pro Kabaddi and broadcaster Star Sports have boosted the sport of kabaddi.

‘Future for the youth’

“The environment is very good now. Clubs have started mushrooming even in the villages of Baghpat district where people did not know about kabaddi and did not have facilities. The ‘KBD Juniors’ programme is good; it’s shown on Star Sports on Mondays. Schools are setting aside time for playing kabaddi. The game has become a bhavishya (future) for the youth now. They can make a career out of it.”

Tomar, the 22-year-old Indian Navy employee, is feels franchisees will not hesitate to offer Rs. one crore or more for individual players at the next auction. “This year it was Rs. seven lakh short of Rs. one crore. I am confident there will be a few successful bids in excess of Rs. one crore at the next auction. At least five or six players will get there. When Pro Kabaddi started, the highest bid was Rs. 12.5 lakh. This game is linked to our soil, it’s a 40 minute game, a damdar (strong) game. And the public likes to see the sport and take much enjoyment out of it. This is the ‘USP’ of kabaddi.”

‘No pressure’

Despite the high stakes, Tomar is not weighed down by the pressure to perform. “I don’t get a feeling that I am under pressure. The coach also told me not to come under pressure; if I do that, because I am getting Rs. 93 lakh, I will not be able to play and deliver. If one has a free mind, he will be able to even improve his game. But a player is always under pressure and sometimes you tend to think what will the fans think, if you don’t perform. Here I am also the captain, but we forget all pressure once we get into a game.

Tomar is looking forward to playing matches at Lucknow. “Support at Lucknow will be massive for the team. UP is a big State. Once we get the support, the team’s confidence levels will rise. We will definitely get the home advantage.”