Having announced his international retirement mid-way during the Pro Kabaddi League (PKL) recently, kabaddi legend and former World Cup winning India captain Anup Kumar said it was time to give chance to the youngsters, who are performing exceptionally at the global level.
The seasoned player also said he hasn't decided to take up coaching in his second innings, however, he will always be attached with the game.
Talking to IANS, Anup said: "I feel earlier it was my time as today it is of rising players like Pardeep Narwal and Pawan Sehrawat. At our time we felt that no one is like us.
"I decided to retire as the boys today are more talented and better than us. The public sentiment was also of the view that Anup has gone past his age. Our fans expect that we perform well in every match and if the youngsters are doing that and I am not, I should better retire and given them chance," the 35-year-old added.
Anup, who won gold medals at the 2010 and 2014 Asian Games, however, said he hasn't taken a call on coaching post-retirement.
"Kabaddi is my soul as today I am whatever is because of this game. I haven't decided on coaching but I know I will always be attached to it and will always try to do something for kabaddi," Anup said
"Whatever I have learnt and the experience I gained, I will always share with the upcoming generation and our players."
The 2016 World Cup winning skipper also stressed on the need for more bilateral and trilateral series as such events will further help in the expansion of the game globally.
"Championships like Kabaddi Masters should be held on a regular basis. The championship last year received a terrific response. If we (India), Iran, Pakistan, Korea keep playing such series, it will be beneficial both for the game and the players as our players will learn something from them and they will learn from us," Anup said.
"Moreover, after PKL, such series will keep us in touch with the public," he added.
Also, prasing Future Kabaddi Heroes (FKH), a talent hunt programme developed by Mashal Sports, the organisers of PKL in association with AKFI (Amateur Kabaddi Federation of India), Anup said: "This (FKH) is a unique initiative for helping the young players to make their dream of playing the sport at a professional level true. It gives the aspiring boys an opportunity to demonstrate their mettle at the biggest kabaddi stage.
"You see Nitesh Kumar, who was the best defender in last PKL saeason, Naveen, who became the youngest player in season VI and was among the top 10 raiders of the season and Surender Singh, who too was among the top 10 defenders of the season, they all came through this initiative," added the Arjuna awardee.
Prasing PKL franchise Bengaluru Bulls skipper Rohit Kumar, the veteran said he hopes to see the ace raider leading the Indian team one day.
Significantly, leading his team from the front, Rohit had guided Bengaluru to the PKL 6 title last month.
"I see myself in Rohit. He is very calm, doesn't have an attitude problem and performs more than one's expectation. He knows how to make his team play and how to play himself in different situations," opined Anup.
"He has been outstanding in PKL. I definately want him to lead India one day and I will be personally happy if it happens," the legend signed-off.
(Kaushik Kumar can be contacted at email@example.com)
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