On January 13, when the Gujarat Giants clinched the Ultimate Kho Kho title, life came full circle for its attacker, V. Subramani.
Hailing from Tamil Nadu, Subramani was a part of the Telugu Yoddhas during the inaugural season in 2022, where his team lost the final by a solitary point against the Odisha Juggernauts.
Cut to the last quarter of 2023. Subramani was picked by the Giants in the draft and went on to eventually lift the trophy that he missed by a whisker last time round.
“I don’t have words to express what I’m feeling right now. Last season’s final loss, that too by just one point, made a huge dent in our morale. We did everything we could and worked hard, but in the end, we couldn’t make it.
“But this time we were able to cross the final hurdle, and I’m extremely happy about it,” says Subramani, who is currently pursuing his master’s degree in English.
“What’s more important for me is that my parents are also delighted with this achievement. They were heartbroken after last season’s final. When they came to know that we qualified for the knockouts this season, they kept telling me that we must somehow win the title this time, and I’m happy we were able to do that,” he adds.
Throughout the season, the Adani Sportsline-owned Giants neither made drastic changes nor stood out from the rest of the teams, but stuck to the basics and got the required results. Behind the team’s ascent to the top is its coach, Sanjeev Sharma, one of the most experienced coaches in the tournament.
His calm demeanour and never-say-die attitude are the traits that make Sanjeev an outstanding teacher, says Subramani.
“Both Sanjeev sir and Mahesh sir (assistant coach) have guided us a lot throughout the season. I’ve played under a handful of coaches so far, but Sanjeev sir is different from everyone.”
“Other coaches might snap at us when we make mistakes, but Sanjeev sir takes time to explain why we made a particular mistake and will also tell us how to counter it during the next practice session,” the 20-year-old recalls.
For Subramani, improving his tactics and skill set are as important as winning the title. “I felt I’d improved a lot this season. My stats say the same as well. Compared to the first season at Telugu Yoddhas, I was given a lot more chances as well, and as a repayment to their faith, I’ve shown improvement in both attack and defense.”
“I would like to thank the coach, who believed in me,” says Subramani, who’s his team’s third-best attacker with 57 points under his belt.
Subramani, who’s currently getting ready for the senior nationals that will happen later this year, says his ultimate goal is to represent India at the Asian Games.
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