Pawan Kumar has been the mainstay of the Jaipur Pink Panthers offence all through Season 5. He was handed the responsibility of being the primary raider after seniors Selvamani K and Jasvir Singh picked up injuries early in the league and he grabbed the opportunity with both hands.
Speaking to prokabaddi.com in an exclusive interview, Kumar was delighted with the way he has grown as a raider and overall contributor to his team’s cause. “In the first three seasons I was with U Mumba where I didn’t get many opportunities to play because there were many senior players in the team,” said Kumar. “In the last season I performed well whenever I was handed opportunities but because of an injury I couldn’t continue till the end. This season I am fit and I have been playing in the first seven. The confidence which my coach and captain have shown in me motivates me to perform better as well.”
However, not many may know that the first time Kumar played in VIVO Pro Kabaddi he had not come to the stadium to play but as a spectator. “I think my entry in Pro Kabaddi will always be a memorable moment for me,” said the raider with a smile, “In the first season I wasn’t in the list of players up for auction but the U Mumba coach had told me that he will call me if any of the players get injured. I still remember that I had gone to the stadium to watch a match when Shabeer Bappu got injured while playing. The coach immediately told me to get ready and play which was completely unexpected.”
Kumar has gone from strength to strength since his U Mumba days and currently is enjoying his stint with the Pink Panthers headed by One-Man-Army Manjeet Chhillar. “Manjeet is like an elder bother to me. We have a lot of fun in our free time,” said Kumar of his captain, “We had been missing him in defence when he was recovering from his injury but since his return the defence is well settled. He is an experienced player and his mere presence on the mat is enough to put the opposition team under pressure. I feel extremely proud to play alongside him.”
Before signing off Kumar even expressed gratitude for the recognition VIVO Pro Kabaddi has brought to young players like him. “VIVO Pro Kabaddi has grown a lot since the first season. When we started no one knew us but now people have started recognising us. Some of them even know us by name. It feels amazing,” concluded Kumar.