PKL 2021: I want to repay the faith Haryana Steelers have shown in me — Rohit Gulia
The star performer for Haryana Steelers in PKL 2021, Rohit Gulia talks to The Bridge about his team's campaign so far and much more.
The multi-skilled all-rounder Rohit Gulia is representing his home state Haryana in season eight. The youngster made it through the ranks of the 'Future Kabaddi Heroes' program in the PKL season five. Haryana Steelers acquired the services of the raiding all-rounder at the auction price of 83 lakhs.
Rohit is away from Gujarat Giants camp for the first time in his Pro Kabaddi League career. The former Gujarat Giants captain played a key role in the thriving journey of the franchise. It was a hard decision for Giants to release a player who had the highest raid points in their previous PKL campaign.
"It's a great feeling representing your home state at the grand stage of Pro Kabaddi League. I was part of Gujarat Giants for three seasons and it was a tough moment moving out of that franchise. I experienced a change as Haryana has a more friendly atmosphere under coach Rakesh Kumar," Rohit says in an exclusive interaction with The Bridge.
Rohit's PKL career graph has always been upwards since his debut. He made improvements season by season overcoming the previous performances. The auction price of 83 lakhs makes him Haryana's second-highest-paid Steeler for the eighth season. Rohit will earn more than three times in Haryana of what he was earning at Gujarat.
"I am really grateful to Haryana Steelers management and coach Rakesh Kumar for believing me and chasing such a huge amount for my services. I aim to repay that faith through my performance and live up to their expectations. These things inspire me to stretch my limits even further. And I will give my best to not let them down and regret," he states.
Haryana Steelers are coached by Rakesh Kumar who was also a great all-rounder in his playing days. Rohit went on to share his feelings of playing under the watch of the legendary Rakesh Kumar for the first time.
"I idolize Rakesh Kumar and it's a dream come true moment for me to have him on my side. I have played with him earlier in local games but it is the first time when he will be my coach. While growing up, inspired me to take up this sport professionally. I take his all-round attributes as a disciple and always tried my best to replicate his class," he revealed.
Rohit then went on to explain his mentor alike role towards emerging stars of Haryana Steelers. "These new players are like younger brothers for us. We try our best to comfort them in the team. As a senior, I try to make them understand their mistakes in a friendly manner so that they won't hesitate to express themselves freely."
Rohit was the premier raider of Gujarat Giants in season seven. But, coach Rakesh Kumar has offered him a diverse role in Haryana using him as a backup raider option and defensive contributions as well. As the Gujarat Giant's most successful raider of last season has made only 44 raids this season so far for his new franchise.
"I'm kind of a player who prefers team over individual glory. I don't care whether my role in the team is of main raider or support raider. I read the game and ask my captain to raid whenever I feel it's the right time. Individual outings are important aspects of the game but the team should always come first," he states.
Rohit is well-known in Pro Kabaddi League for his incredible ability to score multiple raid points in no time. Gujarat gaffer Manpreet Singh has used him as a special weapon to turn the odds in past.
"Haryana Steelers are stacked with steady raiders like Vikash and Meetu Sharma. They are well-versed in scoring single points consistently. So my team demands me to take the risk for multiple points jab and I take it with pride."
Apart from Pro Kabaddi League, Rohit is part of the Railway setup where he represents the Railways team in Senior Nationals and Northern Railways in Inter-zonal tournaments. Railways are considered as invincibles in the domestic kabaddi circuit he has been an integral part of the last three national championship-winning Railways side.
"We are certainly the best team in nationals right now. And our roster has always been stacked with iconic PKL names. If we talk about levels of both stages, PKL is way ahead of any Kabaddi League in this world. The intensity is so high that our bodies feel fatigued in just a single PKL game whereas we usually play three/four matches a day in national tournaments. Sometimes new players go through a nervousness when they see such a big stage with floodlights, crowd and hype all of a sudden."
When being asked about Haryana's sloppy start in PKL season eight. Rohit stated, "We have few new players who are acquiring a prominent role in the core set up so it will take time for them to adjust at the grand stage like PKL. We were able to put tough fights in every game except the Bengaluru Bulls one. I think our team has the potential to defeat any side in the Pro Kabaddi League if we maintain our consistency and we are working on it. The season is long so it's just a matter of time that we will get the momentum to march towards the trophy."