Manjeet Chhillar may not have been on the mat for Jaipur Pink Panthers in recent games due to injury but he is as involved from the sidelines as he was when playing. In the matches he played, the One-Man-Army proved a rock for the Pink Panthers as he ensured that the opposition raiders were kept in check with his signature blocks. While Jasvir Singh has been leading the charge well for Jaipur in his absence, fans will be waiting with bated breath for their captain to return soon. In an exclusive interview with prokabaddi.com Manjeet revealed his journey from wrestling to kabaddi, what goes into making a star kabaddi player, his love for sweets and more. Here are some excerpts.
Please tell us about your kabaddi journey.
Before kabaddi I used to wrestle and my father wanted me to become a wrestler. I joined the wrestling academy and I wrestled for around two and a half years before I got injured. I later got to know that there is a kabaddi team in my village as well. So I started practicing with them and from there my kabaddi journey began.
What is your most memorable moment from kabaddi?
For me the most memorable moment was in 2010 when I first played the Asian Games and won a gold medal for the country.
Does the epithet of ‘One Man Army’ bring any additional pressure?
No, there is no pressure because the practice which I have done in my childhood is for both raiding and defending. My seniors also told me that I should be able to raid as well as defend. In kabaddi, there is more focus on raiders than defenders because when all the defenders come in for a tackle, many times we don’t even know who actually tackled the raider. So I practice both raiding as well as defence.
How easy or difficult do you think captaincy is for you?
It is not easy because it is the captain’s responsibility to handle the team. The captain also has to see who is performing and who is not, so depending on that the captain has to make fast decisions, like which raider should go for the raid and how we should defend. So there is some pressure of captaincy.
Who do you look up to as your idol?
Sushil Kumar (wrestler) is my friend and my idol as well because it is very difficult to get an Olympic medal in wrestling.
Do you think the team is over-reliant on you since you are a senior player?
No, it’s not like that. The team cannot rely on one player because it is a team game. The team loses, even if one department does not perform. You see, one raider who is performing well cannot win you the game. He will only get you around 10 to 12 points but the rest is up to the defence.
Do you have any advice for young aspiring kabaddi players?
My coach always told me that discipline is very important in any sport. Proper diet, practice and rest are also very important. If a player has the right combination of these four, then he can become a good player.
What do you do in your free time?
I like to watch movies, go shopping and I like to rest when I’m free.
What are the three things about you which your fans don’t know?
I like to eat a lot of sweets. I like to live my life to the fullest and I am not able to sleep the night before the match since I play out the entire game many times in my mind.
Do you have any message for your fans?
We just want their love and support. We will try to perform to our potential.