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.
Sukesh Hegde, the Raider from Karnataka and represents Bengal Warriors in the PKL who played a clinical role in the title-winning campaign for them in season 7. Kabaddi Adda was in conversation with Sukesh Hegde, 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, Kabaddi journey, and much more.
KA: How are you coping up with the current situation? What is your routine like?
Sukesh: For me, it is not that different as I work at Bank of Baroda and banking falls under essential services, so my work timings are 9 am to 3 pm which is same as my usual timings and I make sure to do my workout in the morning and evening at my terrace to keep my self fit during this time.
KA: What does your workout schedule look like?
Sukesh: Since all outdoor activities have been stopped it's important to stay fit with whatever you have and especially for a Kabaddi player, it's very important to stay fit when there is no action happening because the game is that demanding. So I do my workouts at my terrace in the morning and in the evenings, I try to keep it simple by starting off with some stretching and then move towards Skipping, Jumping, Push-Ups, Sit-Ups, and Squats.
KA: Did you receive enough support from your Family when you started playing Kabaddi?
Sukesh: At the start, there was not much support from my family. In my primary school days, I used to watch a few senior boys play Kabaddi, and soon I also joined them. We used to play every day after school hours and I used to reach home very late which my parents were not very fond of. But things changed when I started playing a lot of tournaments for school and other local tournaments where my coach from school told me to continue the sport as I was doing good since then my parents were with me for Kabaddi even though I was not that good with education.
KA: Was there any other sport you were into during your younger days?
Sukesh: Yes, I was into Athletics during my school days and I used to participate in Hurdles, High Jump, and Shot Put where I won gold in the district level tournaments which led to my State team selection in all 3 events.
KA: When and how did your Kabaddi journey begin?
Sukesh: I would say when I was in 10th std, I actually failed my 10th and took a break from everything for one year to figure out what next. During the break, I happened to pay a few local tournaments and was playing well, that is when I started thinking about Kabaddi as my career. Then I went on to clear my 12th std by giving the direct exam, I did not attend school/college, during which I was very active in playing many tournaments. During one of the tournaments, I was spotted by one of the coaches of the Alvas college, which is a reputed college that is known for sports and they offered me a free seat under the sports quota to pursue my education and mainly play Kabaddi which marked the start of my Kabaddi journey.
KA: Can you tell us about your PKL selection in the first season?
Sukesh: When I was in my 2nd year of graduation, I got a job offer from Vijaya Bank and I was called in for a selection trail which was also the first time I step my foot in the city of Bangalore. The trail went well and they offered me a position in the bank and from then I started playing for the Bank and the same year I also made it to the Karnataka Senior Nationals team. After a good Senior National tournament in 2013, I made it to the Indian team training camp for the 2014 Asian Games. When PKL season 1 was announced, whoever was part of the Indian team training camp was given the first preference and I was roped in by the Telugu Titans for the PKL season 1.
KA: Can you take us through your PKL 7 with Bengal warriors?
Sukesh: I had a very poor PKL season 6 in terms of performance as I had injury issues, it was a tough outing for me and my confidence was completely down. In the season 7 auctions I was picked up Bengal Warriors in the business end of the auctions, I was one of the last few players to be picked and I would really like to thank coach BC Ramesh for having that faith in me even after a poor outing in the previous season. After getting picked by Bengal I was very determined to do well as this was probably my last chance to do well and if not I was ready to hang my boots. I started my preparations one month before the pre-season camp to make myself ready for the season. Once the season began I was in the starting 12 but did not start every game but I stayed motivated and kept waiting for my chance which I did get the in mid-way of the tournament. But the turning point was the last few games where I did very well and with captain Maninder getting injured I had to step up and deliver which I eventually did, that gives me great joy as we went on to win the title as well. Overall a great experience to represent Bengal Warriors and I would like to thank my teammates and coaches for supporting me throughout the season.
KA: With Maninder getting injured, were you under pressure to deliver?
Sukesh: Well, it was a piece of tough news for us when Mani got injured and we got to know he would not be available for the rest of the games. I knew that now this is a chance for me to do something special for my team. I would like to thank the management for not putting any pressure on us, we were given the freedom to play our natural games and that is exactly what I did and I'm glad it worked out for us.
KA: What are the preparations like before a game like the PKL final?
Sukesh: Preparations are not much different as compared to other games, we have a set game plan for every player from the opposition for instance, before the PKL 7 final, we went through all raids of Naveen in the season and came up with different plans on how to stop him. With the help of our video analyst we sit and analyze our game vs the opposition's game to come up with a game plan. We also have team meetings where our coaches will take us through on the plan for the game and everyone is given their responsibilities. We try to keep the atmosphere as simple and calm as possible as it is very easy to get carried away before a big like the finals.
KA: Few words on Coach BC Ramesh
Sukesh: Coach BC Ramesh is the main reason why I could make a comeback in the PKL like I said before I was thinking about hanging my boots. He showed faith in me and picked me in the auctions when no one else was interested in me and I will always be grateful to him for this. Right now I feel, I still have 3-4 years of Kabaddi left in me and all the credit for that must go to BC Ramesh who has always guided me in the right path and got the best out of me as a player.
ALSO WATCH : TRAIN WITH Coach BC Ramesh
KA: The most memorable match that you have been part of in PKL?
Sukesh: The most memorable match would be my PKL debut against U Mumba in season 1 of PKL where I was representing Telugu Titans. As the game began I was very nervous to start as I was not used to so the lighting, full house crowd, indoor stadium, all these things made my mind blank and I had forgotten how to play Kabaddi and it took me a while to get back to reality. As the game went by, in the dying minutes U Mumba was having a 3 point lead in the game with one raid left and I went for that raid and came back with 3 points to tie the game. After being blank at the start and then getting 3 points in the last raid to tie the game was very satisfying which gave me confidence that I can do well in the big stage as well.
KA: A message you would like to convey to people and your fans in particular?
Sukesh: The whole world is going through a tough time and I would like to ask everyone to stay at their homes and practice social distancing to overcome this pandemic situation. We all need to come together to fight this and I'm sure we will come out of this soon.
Rapid Fire with Sukesh Hegde
- Favorite Indian Kabaddi Player: Sanjeev Kumar Baliyan
- Favorite Foreign Kabaddi Player: Fazel Athrachelli
- Best Friend in the Kabaddi circuit: Maninder Singh
- Any other sport other than Kabaddi: Volley Ball which is the Recreational game we play during camps.
- Hobby: Listening to Kannada and Hindi songs
- If not Kabaddi which other sport you would have pursued? I would have pursued Athletics if not Kabaddi
- Favorite Movie: KGF-Kannada movie
- Favorite Actor and Actress: Akshay Kumar and Shraddha Kapoor
- Favorite Vehicle you would like to own one day: I would love to own a Range Rover one day