The Story of Rambir Singh Khokhar: A Coaching Career which began in 1988!
Rambir Singh Khokhar
Former Kabaddi Player
NIS Certified Coach
Rambir Singh Khokhar- A name that has been attached with Kabaddi for a very long time, one of the most experienced coaches in the country who's first India assignment came in 1988. He stepped into coaching in 1981 after a good 10 year playing stint with the Indian Postal and Telegram team. He has a 31-year experience of coaching at the Sports Authority of India. Under his coaching, India has won 5 gold medals in various prestigious tournaments across the world.
We at Kabaddi Adda had a chance to talk to Rambir Singh Khokhar, where he threw some light on his journey as a player, as a coach, and much more.
KA: Talk us through the journey of your playing days.
Rambir: At the age of 17, I got posted at Indian Postal and Telegram services. Which had a very competitive Kabaddi team. In the beginning, I started off by playing a few A-Grade Tournaments and, I also got a chance to participate in Senior National Kabaddi Championships. I played for the Postal and Telegram team for 10 years, after which I stepped into the line of coaching.
KA: How was Kabaddi different back then compared to now?
Rambir: Maharashtra used to dominate Kabaddi back in those days. Maharashtra, Karnataka, and Tamil Nadu were the strong teams then. These three teams used to dominate every tournament they played. Haryana was still a beginner in Kabaddi and, the same to do with strong teams today like Indian Railways, Services, and others. Haryana came up the ranks by doing some good things. I have the full curve in the development of Kabaddi in Haryana. The Haryana Government made sure they hired high-quality coaches regularly. Who made sure that the grass-root development was focused on. This is one of the reasons why Haryana has become a key contributor to the Indian Kabaddi ecosystem.
KA: Talk us through your experience of coaching the Indian team to a gold medal in the 1988 Asian Championships
Rambir: In 1988, the Asian Championships took place in Jaipur. That year only five countries participated in the championships. Back in those days, the rules were not that strict. There were no Weight restrictions like we have today. This rule actually played to an advantage to the Indian side as we had a strong team. Back in those days, only three teams were dominating Kabaddi- India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh. Pakistan did not participate in the championships in 1988. We went on to win the gold medal.
KA: You have been in the coaching field for the last 32 years. Who are some of the most Interesting players that you have come across? Also, talk us through the new generation of Kabaddi Players who are interesting.
Rambir: The reason why India started participating and winning in Asian Games is Mr. Balwinder Singh Fidda. He was a player who was known for his strength and power. Fidda was one of the few players who had speed as well as immense power. He was one of the reasons why India became known for playing good Kabaddi.
Shantaram Jadhav from Maharashtra was a great player. He was equally good at Raiding and Defending back in those days. Jadhav was one of the best all-rounders of his days in the country.
Ashok Shinde from Maharashtra was known for agility and flexibility. Shinde was so good in his game, making use of this strength very well to his advantage. His footwork was the best, and I don't think anyone even today can match his level of footwork in Kabaddi.
Rajarathnam from Tamil Nadu was one of the top players back in those days. His game was strong in strength and flexibility. He was a good reader of the game and was involved in the game always.
Om Prakash Narwal from Haryana, Gopalappa from Karnataka, I can keep going on and on. There are a lot of players who have done wonders for India and the game of Kabaddi.
Talking of the new generation of players, we have Naveen Kumar, Pawan Seharawat, Maninder Singh, Pardeep Narwal, and many others. I would like to highlight something about Naveen Kumar. His game stays the same for all 18 matches that he plays in the PKL. His energy and intensity never goes down. That is a great quality to have in Kabaddi, and very difficult to have it too.
KA: Few words on the online coaching Program organized by AKFI for India camp due to the Pandemic.
Rambir: It is a great initiative taken by AKFI to conduct an online camp for the players. The players have received it well and given some good feedback on the sessions. As the world was hit by the Pandemic. A lot of players were very demotivated that they couldn't play the game. This online program made life better for the players and coaches. My idea for this program was to give the players some individual skills to practice at home. This was very much needed for the players as they were isolated from Kabaddi for a long time.
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