Telugu Titans will be disappointed with their performances in Season 5 of VIVO Pro Kabaddi after failing to make a splash in Zone B. The Titans had a poor start to the league in their home leg, where they managed just one win and couldn’t get their campaign back on track thereafter. Both attack and defence are culpable for their poor showing this year with their best displays coming towards the latter half of the league when their playoff hopes were as good as gone. One individual who has spent a lot of time on the mat this year is young defender Sombir. The 19-year-old, who can be proud of his displays in what is his breakthrough season, spoke to in an exclusive interview recently. Here are the excerpts.

How did kabaddi begin for you?

Kabaddi has always been played in my village and there are many players from there. So I got motivated by them and started playing kabaddi. I started off as a raider but then switched to defence.

First kabaddi was played in the mud and now on the mat, so how was this transition for you?

There was no mat for us when we were playing in the village. It feels good to play on the mat and in front of so many people. It also gives us a boost to play well.

Did your family support you when you started out playing the sport?

No, they didn’t support me because they wanted me to study and there are injuries as well in the sport. But I wanted to play. Then this league started and I had a dream to come and play here. That dream became a reality last season when I was selected for Telugu Titans. But I didn’t get many opportunities to play last year. This season I got the chance to play and I’m really happy about it.

How much has Pro Kabaddi changed the lives of players?

It has really changed the players’ lives and I, for one, never thought that Pro Kabaddi would reach such a level. This platform is giving opportunities to young players to come and show their talent. So I’m really happy about that.

Do people recognise you, now that you’re a part of Pro Kabaddi?

Everyone treats me very well and people of my village are proud that I’m a part of Pro Kabaddi. I’m not that popular because this is just my first full season in action, so it’ll take time for me to become popular.

Who is your idol in the sport?

My idol is Rakesh Kumar. He’s a very good player and I started playing kabaddi because of him. I followed him from my early age and I still follow him.

How do you feel playing alongside superstars and so many seniors and what do you learn from them?

It feels really great to be a part of Telugu Titans. I have been playing well so I’m happy about it. Rakesh is a senior player in the squad. He treats all the youngsters very well. He tells us what went wrong in the practice sessions and how we should improve and make fewer mistakes. Rohit Rana also tells us how we should tackle. Rahul Chaudhari tells us that you give your best and I will give my best.

What’s the biggest weapon in your armoury?

My ankle hold is my biggest strength. I developed this skill during practice.

Who is your best tackle to date?

All tackles are equally important. I have tackled Anup Kumar, Ajay Thakur as well but I think one tackle on K. Prapanjan was the best because that tackle got the game for us.

Which player has the best ankle hold in the league?

Haryana Steelers captain Surender Nada has the best ankle hold in the league.

What is your dream in this sport?

I want to play well and try to perform better every time. My dream is to represent the country.