Surjeet: Working on fitness important in tight calendar

Surjeet, who is currently placed seventh among the top tacklers after effecting 23 out of 36 tackles in six matches, said he never lacked in motivation.

Puneri Paltan defenders over Jaipur Pin Panthers' raider during a Pro Kabaddi league match at Sawai Mansingh Stadium in Jaipur.   -  Rohit Jain Paras

Surjeet may not be ranked among the top five tacklers in the Pro Kabaddi so far but the 25-year-old Puneri Paltan defender has won a lot of admiration for his defensive skills this season.

Hailing from Sonepat district of Haryana, Surjeet briefly shifted his focus from the league to serve the country in the South Asian Games (SAG). In the process he missed out on playing four matches for Paltan but returned with a lot of confidence after contributing in India's gold winning performance.

Surjeet, who is currently placed seventh among the top tacklers after effecting 23 out of 36 tackles in six matches, said he never lacked in motivation. “In the SAG I played for the country and here I am serving my team. Every time I try to give my best,” Surjeet told Sportstar.

He is proud that an Indian game has spread beyond its own boundaries. “Pro Kabaddi has played a big role in popularising kabaddi in our country as well as in other countries. Earlier playing for India was the sole motivation, now the league is another incentive.”

With his sharp eyes and quick movement, Surjeet, who plays on the right, has proved to be a big asset for Paltan. “I have worked on my defensive skills – on the timing of my game. It is important to know how and when to tackle a raider. One has to position oneself as per the raider's movement.”

With the calendar — packed with the SAG, two legs of the league and the World Cup in October — getting tighter than ever, Surjeet said the only way to sustain oneself was to focus on fitness. “A player has to take adequate rest in between tournaments in order to stay away from injuries. Injury hampers one’s game and career.

“Playing on mat has its adverse effect. It affects one ankles and knees. However, these risks come down when one plays on natural soil,” he said.