From Jatikala to Chennai- The Story of Thalaiva Himanshu
Hailing from the Jatikala village of Sonipat, Himanshu Virender is one of the brightest young prospects in Indian Kabaddi. After an impressive showing in the K7 Kabaddi Stage-up where he was the 4th best raider of the tournament with 171 points, he was picked by the Tamil Thalaivas in the New Young Player (NYP) category.
“If I didn’t play in K7 Kabaddi Stage-up, I don’t think I would have got the visibility as people would have been unaware of my skills. The K7 tourney is the reason I got selected as it gave me a platform to showcase my game,”
said Himanshu Virender in an exclusive interview with Kabaddi Adda.
How did he start playing the sport?
Himanshu hails from a family which has a rich background of Kabaddi. Ever since he started his Kabaddi training, he was coached by his maternal uncle Manjeet Chillar. Manjeet Chillar is one of the best all-rounders to have graced the Pro Kabaddi League and he helped the young raider in his teenage years.
“I was 13-14 when I started playing Kabaddi. I sporadically practiced wrestling before that. But after that PKL started and in which my uncle Manjeet Chillar played, I made the shift to Kabaddi. I trained under him and he was my inspiration,”
added the raider who has been living in Nizampur since the time he started playing Kabaddi.
“I have never played the nationals, the highest I have played was at the state level. I never tried to make it to SAI (Sports Authority of India) as well. The coaching and ambiance in the village training was amazing. We trained in the presence of Arjuna awardees like Manjeet Chillar and the coach of Haryana Steelers’ Rakesh Kumar.”
K7 Stage-up and selection in the PKL
Himanshu had an impressive raid strike rate of 62.37 in the K7 Stage-up and then was selected through the trials for the Tamil Thalaivas.
“I played well in the K7 and I got a call for the trials of Tamil Thalaivas in Kochi. I was selected for the trials. Everyone at home were happy that I got selected including Manjeet. They all were glad that I got selected on my own talent and skill.”
Preparation for PKL
The youngster is currently training in Nizampur. He will bank on his running hand touch and escape skills, which are integral and robust aspects of his game. He talked about banking on these skills as he makes a shift to the senior level. A lot of focus among fans and experts is on how young players will transition to the PKL, which is a completely different ball game altogether.
“My strength is running hand touch and I think that will help the Tamil Thalaivas. Until now, I have played with players from my age group but let’s see how it pans out against the senior players in the PKL. I tried to strengthen my skills in the trials as well.”
Himanshu is keen on learning the routines of senior players and observe them on and off the mat. “The experience will be great. I want to see how do the big players plan and strategize for the games. What is their routine before and after the games? If I get an opportunity to play in the match, I will know what aspects to work on in my personal game.”
Although Himanshu’s efforts in the trials didn't guarantee his selection, he hoped that he would a part of the sport’s toughest tournament this season.
“I wanted to give my best in the trials. The goal for this year’s edition was to be a part of any franchise. Wanted to give my cent percent and the focus was on performing well at the trials as the selection is a different aspect,” he said.
The young player’s preference was the Gujarat Fortunegiants and he opened up about why it was his favorite team. “I had an eye on the Gujarat Fortunegiants team. As they give chances to young players Manpreet Singh is an incredible coach and makes players out of young players.”
Like all other players and officials who will be a part of the league, bio-bubble will be a lethal challenge for the player.
“The first few days will be interesting as there will be the excitement of playing in the PKL. But then it might be boring as we have to be in the same place. But it is what it is”