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PKL 2021: I always tell my players not to worry about result: Haryana Steelers coach Rakesh Kumar

Haryana Steelers will take on Patna Pirates in their first match of the Pro Kabaddi League Season 8 on 23 December 2021.

PKL 2021: I always tell my players not to worry about result: Haryana Steelers coach Rakesh Kumar

Haryana Steelers coach Rakesh Kumar 


The Bridge Desk

Published: 20 Dec 2021 12:18 PM GMT

The Haryana Steelers are all in readiness to begin their Pro Kabaddi League campaign as they will go up against Patna Pirates on Thursday. The Pro Kabaddi, which is returning after two years, will be held in a secure bio-bubble at the Sheraton Grand in Bengaluru.

The Haryana Steelers Head Coach Rakesh Kumar expressed during a virtual press conference on Monday that the players have been practising regularly and will look to play fearlessly in their first match this season, "Yes, Pro Kabaddi is taking place after two years, but it doesn't mean that the players have not been practising. The players have been carrying out practice sessions regularly in their hometowns. I always tell my players to be fearless and not think about the result. We are playing our first match against a good team - Patna Pirates. They have also made a good combination. However, we won't be nervous and will play with full energy and enthusiasm. It's important for us to win the first match as the team will gain confidence and momentum from the victory."

When asked about the reasons behind the appointment of raider Vikash Kandola as Captain of the Haryana Steelers, Rakesh Kumar said, "Vikash has been with us for the last three years and he has played well in every season. And every time he steps on the mat, he gives his 100 per cent and plays for the team. Therefore, we decided to appoint Vikash as the Captain. He should know the responsibilities of being the leader of the team as well. But I am sure that there will be no extra burden on him and he will perform just like he has been doing in Pro Kabaddi."

Captain Vikash Kandola said that he will not feel any added pressure after becoming the Captain of the side, "It's great to become Captain as I have been with this team for three years. The management and the Head Coach are really good. The Coach has asked me not to take any added pressure and play with a free mind. I will not change my approach to the game after becoming Captain. I will play the way I played before. However, I have the responsibility of taking the team forward. We have worked on the mistakes we made last season in our pre-season camp. We will make sure that we don't make the same mistakes again."

Star all-rounder Rohit Gulia, who has scored 241 points in 60 matches, will step on the mat for the Haryana Steelers this season. Kandola shared his thoughts on playing alongside Gulia, "Rohit Gulia is a very good all-rounder. Along with the skill of raiding, he is also a good defender. He plays on both sides of the mat - left-right corner and left-right cover. So, this is a huge boon for us. We can utilize him in the raiding and defence department. We have prepared well as a team for the tournament and we will give our 100 per cent on the mat."

The Haryana Steelers CEO Divyanshu Singh credited the entire Pro Kabaddi team for putting the tournament together, "We are extremely excited for this season. The Pro Kabaddi is returning after two years and it's been a long wait not only for us, but for the coaches and more importantly the players. A huge credit to the entire Pro Kabaddi team for putting the tournament together. The league is going to be held in a secure bio-bubble in Bengaluru. We will lend all of our support to ensure that the league returns with a bang. The Pro Kabaddi is the second most watched league in India and I think everyone has high expectations that the league continues to capture the interest of the fans from all sections of the society."

The CEO added that the team has carried out a fruitful pre-season camp ahead of Season 8, "We had a great pre-season as a team. All of our players were there at the Inspire Institute of Sport in Karnataka. They were provided with the best of facilities and we have also put together a very strong support staff which includes strength & conditioning coaches and physiotherapists. We also had some sessions on mental health. The challenges of this season will be unique and therefore it's important that the players get all the support from our side."

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