The coronavirus pandemic has brought life to a standstill across the world. Especially in the Kabaddi world, a sport defined by contact between people, things are taking a break from the usual tours. The athletes are bound by the rules of isolation, just like the rest of us, but Kabaddi Adda has been speaking to the athletes, staying at their homes or academies, on their changed routines, with competitions on hold and plenty of time on hand.
Right Cover Defender, Maharashtra, Air India, Haryana Steelers (Pro Kabaddi Season 7)
Vikas Kale, a defender from Maharashtra who represents Haryana Steelers in the PKL (season 7) who has worked very hard to get where he is today and regarded as one of the experienced defenders in the country. Kabaddi Adda was in conversation with Vikas Kale, he was very easy to talk to and we thank him for being patient and doing this fun interview with us. Read on to get to know about his routine, his struggle, his Kabaddi journey, and much more.
KA: With the whole nation under lockdown what is your daily schedule like?
Vikas: I live in Pune, one of the red zones in India where there are a lot of positive cases and this means that all outdoor activities are shut. To keep myself fit, in the morning I do my fitness routine in an empty field nearby which is just 300 meters from my house. In the beginning, I was the only one training but now we are around 10-15 people who train there, we make sure to maintain a good distance and not have any contact between us during the session. When I'm not training I help my family in some basic house chores. My parents are new to Pune and are not very familiar with the city so any purchase of essentials like ration, vegetables, etc I help with. Other than that we watch some news on TV as a family to stay updated on the current situation outside.
KA: Since Kabaddi is a contact sport, there is no way anyone can practice skills at the moment, so what kind of workouts you do to keep yourself fit?
Vikas: Yes like you said no skill practice is happening these days, so it's very important to focus on the fitness aspect, as Kabaddi is a demanding sport. In the morning I go for long-runs, short sprints, tire workouts, and agility training which helps in keeping me in shape and ready for the upcoming season.
KA: Can you take us through your diet during this lockdown situation?
Vikas: I wake up around 5 am and the first thing I have is Sabja seeds and Badam soaked hot water which I soak and keep it overnight. Then I have a Banana and one glass of Milk before my workout. Post-workout I have a Protein shake followed by breakfast- Omelet or Egg burji along with some fruits.
Lunch and Dinner are not rigid as such, usually its either Chicken, Mutton, or any veg curry along with some wheat Rotis.
KA: How did you start playing Kabaddi and was there anyone at that time you would like to mention who played a key role to start your Kabaddi journey?
Vikas: I started playing Kabaddi only at 18-19 years of age. I used to wrestle and enjoyed playing that sport and was good at it. I used to practice wrestling at a college nearby where people used to play Kabaddi too; there a coach named Rajendra Pal who spotted me playing wrestling came and told me that I can become a defender in Kabaddi and also told me that ''whatever you do in wrestling can be executed in Kabaddi too''. If you observe the thigh hold and block, both techniques are used a lot in wrestling. Rajendra sir made me perfect in those skills which are of great help even today. This is how I got into Kabaddi and a lot of that credit will go to Rajendra Pal sir.
KA: Can you tell us about the Club where you practice?
Vikas: In 2008, I was training at SAI hostel in Mumbai. Then I moved to Pune at a club called Babu Rao Chaderi Foundation, There are about 5-6 PKL players who practice at that club - Siddharth Desai, Suraj Desai, Akshay Jadhav and myself to name a few. This club has given me a lot of success, from playing at the district level to playing the Senior Nationals for Maharashtra is mainly because of this club. There are a lot of good players in the Club, giving me a lot of scope for improvement.
KA: Can you tell us about your selection with Air India?
Vikas: Earlier I used to play for Dena Bank, we had a very good team where we won a lot of tournaments we played in. While playing a final of one the tournaments, Air India coach Mr. Ashok Shinde saw my game and asked me if I would want to play for Air India. Air India was and still is one of the top teams in the Kabaddi circuit in our country, so I said yes to him, and since 2015 I'm with Air India.
KA: In a contact sport like Kabaddi, how important is the fitness of players?
Vikas: Fitness is one of the key aspects of Kabaddi because injuries can occur very frequently, so it's very important to stay fit at any given point of time. We also know once a player is injured it takes time for him/her to make a comeback as in Kabaddi. A player needs to recover completely and then start playing otherwise the injury can get worse given that this is a contact sport. So staying fit is the key for any Kabaddi player which will help them to bring in their A-game and also keep them away from injuries.
KA: You played your first season of PKL with Bengal Warriors, can you take us through on how you got selected?
Vikas: 2014 was the first year that I got picked for Maharashtra for Senior Nationals, I had a very good tournament there and right after that I had a good campaign in the National Games tournament too. Here I was noticed by many franchises - Bengal Warriors approached me first, and called me for trials. Even Telugu Titans and Patna Pirates invited me for selection trails. I called Bengal Warriors management asking whether they are still interested in me or whether I should go for trails with other teams. They liked my game and welcomed me to their team and that how my PKL journey began.
KA: How has life changed post-PKL?
Vikas: Life has changed post-PKL, the situation at home was very bad when I was young. There were times during college where I used to lift gas cylinders for 10-15 Rupees and my daily income was about 30 rupees, which I used to pass it back home. My dad used to spend all his money on alcohol and my mother used to wash utensils at people's homes for a living. There have been times where I also used to go and wash utensils. It was a tough time for me but I loved sports so I used to keep a fixed time for sport amidst all the work. But all of this changed when I started playing in the PKL, from not having even 10 rupees in my pocket to having my own house, vehicle, and a good lifestyle. This has removed a lot of stress on my mother too, all of this was possible because of the PKL. I had never dreamt of a lifestyle like this and all the credit will go to my mother, all my coaches, and players who have helped me to reach this stage in life.
KA: You have been part of PKL since season 2, is there a game you fondly remember?
Vikas: A game against Bengaluru Bulls in Season 7 at Ahmedabad where Haryana Steelers won the game with a score of 33-30. I scored 8 points and was able to stop Pawan multiple times and more importantly we went on to win the game. This was a very good feeling for me and the whole team.
KA: According to you who are the 3 best raiders and 3 best defenders who are currently playing?
Vikas: Defenders- Nitesh Kumar, Sandeep Dhull and Vishal Bharadwaj
Raiders- Naveen Kumar, Pardeep Narwal, and my all-time favorite Ajay Thakur.
Rapid Fire with Vikas Kale
- Favorite Indian Kabaddi Player: Ajay Thakur
- Favorite Foreign Kabaddi Player: Fazel Athrachelli
- Best Friend in the Kabaddi circuit: Sunil Dubele
- Any other sport other than Kabaddi that you like: Wrestling and Cricket
- Favorite sports person outside Kabaddi: Bajrang Punia- a Wrestling player
- Hobby: I enjoy and do a lot of gardening activities
- If not Kabaddi which other sport you would have pursued? Wrestling
- Favorite Movie: Bhaag Milka Bhaag
- Favorite Actor: Akshay Kumar
- Favorite Vehicle: Toyota Fortuner