Hailing from a village with a rich history of producing great kabaddi players like Jasvir Singh and Jasmer Gulia, it was only natural that Rohit Gulia gravitated towards the sport from a young age.

“My village is crazy for kabaddi,” he told ProKabaddi.com. “If I had to guess, I’d say 99 percent of all the boys in our village play kabaddi. My grandfather was a kabaddi player, my uncle is a kabaddi player and they have thrown their complete support behind me in my kabaddi endeavours. Living up to the family’s legacy is something I take very seriously.”

Under the tutelage of his coach and relative Ranveer Gulia, a taskmaster who demands nothing short than the best from his students, a young Rohit, backed by his family, set on his kabaddi journey with the aim of representing the national team in the Asian Games. The all-rounder quickly rose through the ranks in the junior levels, but his upward trajectory hit an untimely snag.

“I went to the selection camp for Nationals and was rejected,” recalled Gulia. “I went for U-19s selection twice, once in 11th grade and the other time a year later and was rejected both times. Those two years were tough for me.”

In that challenging period, Gulia received a word of encouragement from coach Ranveer who pushed him to train harder and do better to improve his chances of getting selected for the nationals. With a rejuvenated spirit, Gulia worked harder on his game and a year later finally earned his spot in the Junior Nationals team.

It was also his coach Ranveer who first informed him of the Future Kabaddi Heroes programme and the opportunity it presented to becoming a Pro Kabaddi League player, the trials of which Gulia would soon attend and excel in. “I performed well in phase I and II of the Future Kabaddi Heroes programme and made it through to the final phase. FKH has been a life-changer for me. My entire outlook on the sport has changed after my stint in the FKH. It is a great opportunity for all youngsters, and I’d like to thank everyone involved with the FKH for giving players like me an opportunity to play in the VIVO Pro Kabaddi league.”

Gulia also credited the FKH in helping the him understand the sport’s technical side and further develop as an athlete. “I learned a lot about positioning and in-game strategies during the training camp. The attention to detail is incredible. It was a whole new world for me.”

While training under the FKH programme, Gulia made a big impression on a number of VIVO Pro Kabaddi franchises, but it was the Gujarat Fortunegiants management who eventually managed to pick the all-rounder.

Gulia had a terrific start to his Pro Kabaddi career and ended his debut season (Season 5) with 38 points in 19 appearances. He continued to feature prominently in Season 6 as well, finishing the campaign as Gujarat Fortunegiants’ most successful all-rounder with 61 points in 19 matches.

Coach Manpreet Singh has often used Gulia in Do-Or-Die raids and the calm-and-composed all-rounder has been an effective weapon in those tricky situations. It’s of little wonder therefore why Gulia has been his coach’s trump card in the past two campaigns and the all-rounder has consistently answered his team’s call in their hour of need.