VIVO Pro Kabaddi has changed the landscape of the sport ever since its inception in 2014. Not only has it elevated the game to great heights, it has also exposed the sport to youngsters in both rural and urban areas. Thousands of enthusiastic fans throng the stadiums religiously to get behind their favourite teams and make their voices heard from the stands. One such fan who has taken his passion for his team to a whole new level is Rakesh Govind Parab – a U Mumba supporter who has become a familiar face for viewers at home as well as those in the stadium.

Rakesh himself hopes to be on the mat someday but until then he is happy to stand out in the crowd with eye-catching hairstyles that cannot go unnoticed by the cameras as well as those around him at the stadium. The youngster spoke to recently about his love for the game and his haircut that has seen him wear Captain Cool Anup Kumar’s portrait on his head amongst other things.

On his love for kabaddi and his idol Anup, young Rakesh said: “I play for a club in Mumbai. I like to go and see the matches live but initially nobody gave me the tickets, so I used to watch the matches on television. I really like to watch the U Mumba matches. So, after some time a referee gave me a ticket for a match and after seeing the match I liked the game of Anup Kumar. He gets the bonus points effortlessly and I also try for bonus points when I play for my club. So, this is the reason I like Anup and the reason behind this haircut. My hair-stylist is Sagar More and because of him I can sit in the stadium and watch the matches. So, all credit to him.”

Not everyone is pleased with Rakesh’s haircut though, none more so than his parents. “They really got angry but I told them that I am Anup’s fan and I will get this hairstyle. The hairstyle cost me Rs 2000 and my family’s financial condition is not that great. But I wanted to do something unique like Sachin Tendulkar’s fan... I would like to say that I will go anywhere for Anup’s matches. I went for the Kabaddi World Cup as well and the Pro Kabaddi referees helped me get there,” he said.

This isn’t the first time the flamboyant youngster has had a haircut in keeping with his personality though. “I started following it [VIVO Pro Kabaddi] from the first season... Last year I had the Pro Kabaddi hairstyle and this year I’ve got this hairstyle. So, because of these hairstyles I get to sit in the VIP section,” Rakesh said.

Lastly, when asked what quality of Anup he admires most, Rakesh said: “He is one of the best captains. He never loses his cool with any player in the team. He stays calm irrespective of the situation. So, these are the reasons why I like him.”