For years, the Senior National Kabaddi Championship has not only been the stage for the nation’s finest kabaddi players to showcase their skillset but has also been a platform for younger players to test their mettle against the elite and make a name for themselves in the sport.
While there are plenty of examples of players leaving their mark in this competition and carving a route to vivo Pro Kabaddi, seldom stand out more than Telugu Titans’ Siddharth Desai.
Part of the Maharashtra side that triumphed at the 65th Senior National Kabaddi Championship in 2018, Siddharth Desai’s timely contributions in his team’s victory helped him fulfil his dream of playing in the vivo Pro Kabaddi.
“For me, that campaign with Maharashtra in 2018 where we struck gold at the Senior National Kabaddi Championship was the defining moment of my career,” Siddharth Desai reminisced when speaking to ProKabaddi.com.
“I knew I had to perform well to not only help my team win the title but also open the door to the vivo Pro Kabaddi for myself,” he said.
Substitution works wonders
Despite playing the role of a support raider to veterans like Rishank Devadiga and Nitin Madane, Siddharth Desai’s desire and determination to excel during that tournament was undeterred and it was on full display in a tight contest against Uttar Pradesh.
Trailing by two and staring at an All-Out, Maharashtra were in need of a game-changing moment to turn the tide of the contest and up stepped Siddharth Desai to answer his team’s call.
“I came on a substitute since we had no raiders on the mat and it was necessary for me to score points to ensure that we stayed within touch on the scoreboard and avoid the All-Out,” recalled Siddharth Desai.
“Despite the pressure, I backed myself and scored two points in a single raid that not only brought parity to the scoreline but also revived Nitin Madane, post which, we stepped up as a team to win the match and eventually the gold medal as well.”
Senior National to vivo Pro Kabaddi
The raider popped up with timely contributions throughout the tournament and his efforts prompted U Mumba to add Siddharth Desai to their roster for vivo Pro Kabaddi Season 6.
The Kolhapur-native went on to deliver a stellar campaign, scoring 218 raid points – the third-highest tally in the league in Season 6 – en route to winning the Best Debutant Award.
In Season 7, Desai joined the Telugu Titans and scored 217 raid points, cementing his status as one of the nation’s finest raiders.
Siddharth Desai’s opportunity to ply his trade in vivo Pro Kabaddi came courtesy of his exploits in the Senior National Kabaddi Championship.
And the raider believes that performing well in the nation’s premier inter-state competition will go a long way in helping a young player propel himself into the limelight.
“Younger players should take great pride in representing their state in the Senior Nationals. This tournament pits the country’s best kabaddi players against each other and performing well could be a life-changing moment for anyone,” he concluded.
To follow the latest updates, scores and top stories from the 67th Senior National Kabaddi Championship, click here.