Rishank Devadiga and his Maharashtra teammates celebrate their victory at the 65th Senior National Kabaddi Championship. Photo: Hotstar

How long would you wait for your dream to come true? While many may have the patience to stick to their convictions for months or maybe even a year, few would have the single-minded determination of Rishank Devadiga whose dream took eight years to reach fruition. The target was set right from when he realised he can make his passion for kabaddi into a profession; the prize - the Senior National Kabaddi Championship.

"I was very young when I first played at the nationals but the more I played, the stronger the desire to win the title as a captain grew inside me," said Rishank Devadiga in an exclusive interview with ProKabaddi.com.

"I remember the previous time Maharashtra won the title was when Jitesh Joshi was the captain," he recalled. "Back then whenever we went to play anywhere his name used to be announced on the loudspeaker since his team had won after 27 years. Hearing my name there was something I aspired to."

From 'taking up matches with other local teams on Sundays' to realising he can make a name for himself in the sport, the process took its time for Rishank Devadiga. But once he saw what opportunity lay ahead, there was no stopping him.

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Most memorable day of my life 💪💪💪

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"The first year itself in 2010 we won the state championship and I was selected for the nationals to represent Maharashtra," he pointed out. "I never played juniors or sub-juniors before participating in the seniors so it was a big deal for me.

It wasn't all smooth sailing for the raider after his selection though. He wasn't handed reins of the team as there were more senior players still representing the state. Despite the experience, the team wasn't able to take home the trophy.

Leading from the front

Finally, in the 65th Senior National Kabaddi Championship the stars aligned just perfectly for an eight-year wait to end.

"It was a pleasant surprise for me since I didn't know beforehand that I would be the captain," Rishank Devadiga described the experience. "To lead the team to victory after that was something I still feel lucky about.

"We won after almost 12 years and I don't think many people gave us a chance back then. Proving everyone wrong and getting there was a big achievement for me."

Of the many positives that came out of that victory, one of the biggest was that Rishank Devadiga's name was forever etched among the big guns of the game.

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Winning the 65th senior national kabaddi championship 💪💪💪 proud feeling 🎰

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He had not only marshalled his side but also led from the front by playing a starring role in the semi-final to register a thrilling last-minute win against Karnataka.

He then started the final with a Super Raid that set the ball rolling against Services that evening, rescued his side in the first half when they were on the brink of an All-Out and then ended the match with another Super Raid.

Maharashtra took the match 34-29 at the Gachibowli Indoor Stadium in Hyderabad. If his name was announced on the loudspeaker that night, as the raider had yearned, it must have drowned in the celebrations that followed.

"People saw that Rishank has matured and is capable of handling a team," said a pleased Rishank Devadiga. "That was a big positive for me. I could even say that it was a turning point."