Ghar Se Panga: Amit Hooda, how a raider turned into a lethal right corner defende
The coronavirus pandemic has led to the postponement of the much-awaited Pro Kabaddi League season 8. To keep the high-intensity game of Kabaddi going, Kabaddi Adda tries to eliminate the virtual gap between the athletes and fans by talking to Kabaddi athletes on their changed routines and fitness maintenance at home.
Right corner defender, SAG Games Gold Medalist, Haryana, Pro Kabaddi Season 7 - Jaipur Pink Panthers.
Our conversation with Amit Hooda revealed his presence of mind. He has proved that a combination of hard work and smart work can be the key to success in this competitive world.
KA: Amit, what is your lockdown schedule? How are you spending precious time with your family?Amit: Social distancing is mandatory in this period but we cannot skip our practice. Thus, I carry out my fitness training and skill workout twice a day in large lonely fields. A few young Kabaddi players also join me. We practice ankle hold, thigh hold, dive, etc.
After long, I have got time to spend with family. Playing with kids and doing daily chores have become a part of my schedule. I have also learned new recipes like Halwa and Churma!
KA: When and how did you start playing Kabaddi?
Amit: I started with Kabaddi at the age of twelve. Circle style Kabaddi was popular in our village. My first coach Chand, who taught me Kabddi basics, pushed me towards National style Kabaddi as it provides better job opportunities in Army, Air Force, Railways, etc. Also, Kabaddi is not expensive as no equipment as such is required.
KA: Was anyone from your family into sports?
Amit: No. My dad used to wrestle, but never professionally. He never forced me to excel in academics but if someday I missed a running or workout session, he reprimanded me.
My brother Narendra Hooda also plays Kabaddi. He was selected in Patna Pirates team but didn’t participate as he took up a job in Haryana Police.
KA: Who has been your inspiration in Kabaddi?
Amit: Joginder Narwal, Manjeet Chhillar, Rakesh Kumar and Anup Kumar have inspired me. As a defender I follow Joginder Narwal. I feel so good to have played with such renowned players.
KA: Were you always a defender?
Amit: No, no. I started as a raider and got all selections as one. Even in Pro Kabaddi. However, soon I realized that the team had good raiders like Rakesh Kumar, Ravi Dalal but were often weak at defense. Here I took a smart decision to play right corner. Being a somewhat good defender, I played the entire Pro Kabaddi season 2 as a right-corner for Patna Pirates.
KA: When did you play your first Junior National?
Amit: My incapability to comply with the weight criteria never allowed me to participate in the Junior Nationals. However, I played U-19 School Nationals and bagged Gold. I won Silver medal twice in All India Inter-University Kabaddi Championship with Kurukshetra University where coach Balbir Singh trained us. He paid an additional focus on fitness. As a part of the Haryana team, I have played Senior Nationals with coach Balwan Dahiya and won medals often. Dahiya Sir has improved my Kabaddi skills to a large extent.
KA: How would you encourage youngsters to maintain high-level fitness in Kabaddi and why?
Amit: Fitness is a part and parcel of Kabaddi. You cannot play if you are unfit. Kabaddi is a high-intensity body contact sport. In recent times, it has reached a level where speed is of great importance for both raiders and defenders. If one lacks fitness, injury risks are high. Fitness is a must to be perfect at your skill.
KA: How did you get selected for SAI?
Amit: Two of my friends were already playing under SAI Gandhinagar, Gujarat. They informed me regarding the trials. Coaches selected players based on their talent and future scope. I got selected.
KA: How did you get selected in Pro Kabaddi?
Amit: Sandeep Narwal, my childhood friend, had already played Pro Kabaddi season 1 under Patna Pirates. He took me to the fifteen-day trial held by the Patna Pirates in Delhi. Sandeep said, “This is what I can do. Now you have to showcase your extraordinary talent to get selected”. My performance was exceptional in the trials and I got selected by Patna Pirates for Pro Kabaddi League season 2. I was excited as the franchise chose me for 1.5 lakh. Never in my life had I seen such a big amount. Considering my healthy performance, the franchise requested me to sign the contract with them for the next season. I was unsure of my performance in the third season as I got only three matches to play in which I scored a total of twelve points. Surprisingly, Jaipur Pink Panthers selected me in the season 4 auction for 23 lakhs.
KA: Do you face any performance pressure?
Amit: Obviously. We have to perform well consistently. Also we are aware of the amount franchises will pay us for our talent. Thus, it is critical to play well to secure our position and continuously improve our skillset and fitness.
KA: How are you feeling to be back in the Jaipur Pink Panthers team?
Amit: I am very thankful to the franchise for showing such faith in me. My actual Kabaddi journey started with this team as I had the second highest successful tackles in season 4 with 51 points.
KA: What is your mental condition during a Super Tackle?
Amit: That is a tough situation where the incentive is higher to tackle the raider by hook or by crook. I try to invite the raider to enter my comfort zone before I attack.
KA: Name some challenging raiders who trouble you.
Amit: Right raiders like Naveen, Pawan whom I struggle to dash out. The left raiders are right in my zone. I always try continuous movements to bring the raiders in my area of successful tackle. Co-ordination is of importance - we use sign language and eye-contact to communicate. The efforts start in practice sessions.
KA: Can you tell us about your matchday schedule? How you prepare yourself physically and mentally?
Amit: We keep ourselves tension-free and keep confidence high. Relaxing on match day is necessary to give a hundred percent on the mat. A bit of swimming, chit-chat with teammates constitutes my schedule for match day. Regarding diet, we intake light food like protein shake after warmup, dry fruits, fruits, brown rice, etc.
KA: Share your memories with the Bachchans.
KA: Share your memories with the Bachchans. Amit: Before the Mumbai leg of Pro Kabaddi began, Abhishek Bachchan took us to Amitabh Bachchan’s office where we met him. He praised our talent and hard work and shared that he doesn’t come to watch matches as the team always ends up losing when he shows up. We promised him the next time he comes, we won’t disappoint him. Luckily, we kept our word. The next match he came to see, we defeated Haryana Steelers with a great margin.
KA: How has life changed after Pro Kabaddi?Amit: I had financial issues and could not even afford the diet plan that is needed to be followed by an athlete. Now it is possible. Moreover, now I have a name. People recognize me wherever I go. Pro Kabaddi has brought a drastic turnaround in the Kabaddi world. People have become aware of Kabaddi and respect the players. Kabaddi is an interesting game but Pro Kabaddi is like the cherry on the cake.
Even my friends feel proud and boast of having played with me and being my friends. My mom gets excited on my match days. She completes all the household chores and waits for before television for at least one hour leading to the match. It feels really good.
Favorite Indian Kabaddi Player: Myself.
Favorite foreign Kabaddi Player: Fazel Atrachali
Best Friend in Game: Sandeep Narwal
Favorite sport except for Kabaddi: Football
Favorite player in Football: Cristiano Ronaldo
Free time hobby: Watch Youtube videos related to fitness and injury recovery Sport
you would have played if Kabaddi was not there: Wrestling
Favorite Movie: Khalnayak
Favorite Actor: Sanjay Dutt
Favorite car: Range Rover