U Mumba skipper Anup Kumar will be hoping that his team can put behind their inconsistent start to Season 5 of VIVO Pro Kabaddi as they brace themselves for their home leg at the Dome@NSCI SVP Stadium. It has been a stop-start beginning to their campaign but Captain Cool Anup is expecting nothing less than a 100 percent from his squad in Mumbai.

“We'll try our best to play our home leg well. We'll try to remain unbeaten [during the leg]. We'll play with our hearts 100 percent,” Anup told prokabaddi.com in an exclusive interview recently.

He also revealed how his tryst with kabaddi began and the ultimatum given to him by his brother when he informed him that he wanted to pursue the sport as a career. “It [love for kabaddi] started in my village [in Haryana]. There was a craze in my village to play kabaddi… I used to watch my seniors playing the sport, then I decided to play it as well. I enjoyed it and it just started from there,” Anup said.

He continued: “My brother gave me one year saying, ‘if you can make it then fine, otherwise you'll have to get the job the family decides.’ Despite getting a job, I continued practising with all my heart. And in 2005 all my efforts paid dividends [when he burst onto the national kabaddi scene].”

Commenting on if the tag Captain Cool brings any added pressure with it, Anup said: “No pressure [with the Captain Cool moniker]. If I make mistakes, it's because I am human. No matter what kind of human, be it a hot-headed or a cool person, everyone does make mistakes. If I make a mistake on the mat, there is no point keeping that in my mind. No one is perfect, be it in sport or studies, in anything. We can all keep learning. I don't consider myself to be perfect. I learn from my mistakes.”

When asked what it felt like to captain India in last year’s Kabaddi World Cup, Anup added: “It was a very big tournament... And the popularity [was unbelievable]. I was very happy that the World Cup was being held in India. That it was being done so well and at such a big level, and I was captain of that team. I was very proud. I was also very happy with the team's performance, despite losing the first match, which was nothing as we made a few mistakes. We rectified those mistakes and went on to play well and win. The experience was quite good. From all the tournaments I have played in, that was the best.”

However, his proudest moment yet came in 2012 when he was honoured with the prestigious Arjuna Award from the Government of India. “When in 2012 I got my Arjuna Award, that was my most memorable moment. It was the most important moment in my life,” Anup concluded.