The Story of Srinivas Reddy- One of the Youngest Coaches in the Pro Kabaddi League
Kabaddi Player-India, Andhra Pradesh, ONGC, Andhra Bank
NIS Certified Coach- India, India Junior, Korea, Australia, Jaipur Pink Panthers, Telugu Titans, and Haryana Steelers
Srinivas Reddy, a name that does not need any introduction, started his Kabaddi career as a player who went on to represent India, Andhra Pradesh (Now Telangana), ONGC, and Andhra Bank. After which he came into the Coaching scene in Kabaddi at a very young age after taking consultations from his guru Mr. Prasad Rao (Technical Director IKF), who asked him to try out coaching.
He got an opportunity to coach the Korean team in the 2014 Asian Games and helped Korea win the bronze medal. Post which, he has gone to coach India, Australia in the international circuit, Telugu Titans, Haryana Steelers, and Jaipur Pink Panthers in the Pro Kabaddi League.
We at Kabaddi Adda had a chance to talk to Mr. Srinivas Reddy, where he threw some light on his journey as a player, as a coach, and much more.
KA: When and How did Kabaddi come into your life?
Srinivas: I come from a Village called Utterpally (near Hyderabad) where Kabaddi is very famous. My father, Vittal Reddy (late), used to play a lot of Kabaddi. Slowly I also got interested in the game, and as soon as school finishes, I used to go to the grounds and play Kabaddi. This interest became an obsession, and soon I was playing Kabaddi for my school.
I got into a school named Sarasvathi Sishu Mandir, the school used to have an all-India event named Khel Kood, in which we went on to win the title, and this became a turning point at that time for me. One of the coaches there told me that I play very well and should go and train at District Sports Authority (DSA), where I met a coach named Mr. K Subbarao, who I consider as my guru even today. I trained under him every day and got to learn a lot from him. It was the foundation of my Kabaddi career.
KA: How did you transform and get your first break in Kabaddi as a player?
Srinivas: In 1991, I made it to the Andhra Pradesh state team for the Rural Nationals that happened in Haryana. We won a Bronze medal there and also the next year in the same tournament which happened in Gulbarga. After the completion of my schooling (+2), I joined Osmania University for my B com. Degree and I played for the University team for three years from 1995 to 1997, where I was also the captain. Mr. Jagmohan, who was the coach at Osmania University, suggested me to travel to Gujarat as there was recruitment happening for ONGC. For which I went and eventually made it to the team after five months of training with Mr. Prasad Rao. Once I started playing for ONGC, we had players like Neer Gulia, Manpreet Singh, Pankaj, and many others who trained under Mr. Prasad Rao. After four years of playing for ONGC, I got my first India team selection call in 2003 for Asian Championships, which happened in Malaysia. But fate had different plans where the Indian team got disqualified on some conspiracies like team reported late and things. It was a disappointing time for me as the team had to return.
Back then, the maximum weight for Kabaddi was 80 Kgs, and I was a little overweight. So the next 2-3 years went in maintaining my weight. In 2006, I again made it to the India team for the Asian Championship, which happened in Iran, where we won the gold medal.
KA: How did you get into Kabaddi Coaching at such a young age?
Srinivas: After the gold medal in Iran, I left ONGC and Joined Andhra Bank as an officer. I Kept playing for a few more years and, in 2010 from Telangana State, I made it to the 2010 Asian Games probable list but unfortunately, I did not make it to the Indian side. I tried my best for the next 3-4 years to make it back to the India side, but it did not happen. During that time, my Guru, Mr. Prasad Rao, suggested me to think about coaching as a career. At first, I was surprised as I was very Young but took it up eventually. In 2014 with the help of Janardhan Singh Ghelot, Mr. Chaturvedi, and Mr. Prasad Rao, I got a chance to coach the Korean team in the 2014 Asian Games and, we went on to win the Bronze medal in the games. Right after that, I went to the Beach Asian Games, where the Girls Korean team also won the Bronze medal. These were the first instances where Korea won a medal in Kabaddi and, I'm very proud of this achievement as a coach. After which, I went on to coach Junior India in the 2016 Junior National Asian Kabaddi Championships, Australia in the Kabaddi world cup 2016, Senior India in the Dubai Masters.
KA: What is the story behind the Pro Kabaddi League coaching opportunity?
Srinivas: During the 2014 Asian Games, I got a chance to meet Mr. Anupam Goswami (League Commissioner-PKL) with the help of Mr. Udhay Kumar (Indian Coach 2014 Asian Games), who asked me if wanted to work in the Pro Kabaddi League and, I said 'Yes sir for sure, you just give me a chance.'
From there, I went back to India and, with the help of Prasad Rao and Udhay Kumar, I got the opportunity with Telugu Titans as an assistant coach. I was the youngest coach in the PKL at that time. I was with the Titans for the next three years, where the team performed very well.
In 2017, the Haryana Steelers franchise made its debut in the PKL and, I was the assistant coach for that season.
After which I got an opportunity to coach the Jaipur Pink Panthers and, it was an honor, coaching a franchise like the Panthers. I still can't forget the day I met Mr. Amitabh Bachchan, it was a surreal experience.
KA: Can you tell us about the experience in coaching the Indian National Team (both Senior and Junior)
Srinivas: 2016 was the first time I got a chance with the Junior National Team for the Junior National Asian championships, where I got an opportunity to conduct a camp in Gandhi Nagar Gujarat, the place where my Kabaddi career started. We went on to win the gold medal in Iran, and it was a great experience. We had a great team where most of today's PKL stars were part of that line-up in the likes of, Parvesh, Vikas Kandola, Vishal Bharadwaj, Rohit Gulia, Nitesh Kumar, and few others. Post which, I got a surprise call up to coach the Senior India team in the Dubai Masters as a Head coach. I was very nervous at the beginning as the first match of the tournament was India against Pakistan, which is a high-pressure game no matter which sport. Before the event, Mrs. Mridul Bhadauria, President of AKFI, told me to make use of the opportunity and asked me to deliver the result. We went on to win the tournament by beating Iran in the finals and, it was a great feeling. I went to our President madam to seek blessings as it was my birthday and also to say thanks for the opportunity she provided me. That is when I got a piece of good news from her where I got to know that, I will be coaching the women's team in the upcoming Asian Games. We went on to win silver as we lost a close game to Iran in the final, which was very disappointing.
KA: Few words on the growth of the Pro Kabaddi league
Srinivas: Pro Kabaddi league for sure has changed the game of Kabaddi at a 360-degree level. It has brought financial stability to the players, coaches, and all stakeholders. Which in turn, has changed the lifestyle for all of us, no one would have imagined that traveling in flight, staying in 5-star hotels was ever possible but, it became possible because of PKL. It has also brought in Glamour and Publicity to the players and coaches. Back then, when Kabaddi was not a popular sport, no one thought a career in Kabaddi is a stable career choice, but now after the launch of PKL, everything has changed, now we have a show on Amazon Prime named 'Sons of Soil' about Jaipur Pink Panthers which I'm also a part of. This shows that the game will keep growing with time and PKL will be one of the key reasons behind it.
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