Tall and brave, a star raider emerges from the Yuva Kabaddi Series

Aug 21, 2023

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Gagan Gowda has impressed everyone with his raiding skills in the Yuva Kabaddi Series Summer edition of 2023. The 6 ft 3 inches tall raider has an imposing stature on the Kabaddi mat but is an introverted and shy mannered off the mat. But one thing is sure to be expected from the youngster, the passion and the commitment to give his best in the game he loves.

“I started playing in eighth standard. Back then I used to play both kabaddi and volleyball. But our school team lost a major volleyball tournament, and because kabaddi was becoming popular at that time due to the Pro Kabaddi League, I decided to focus on it. The volleyball coaches in school urged me to keep playing because they felt I had the height to take it up professionally, but I had made up my mind,” said Gagan about his introduction to the sport.

In Yuva Kabaddi Series in Mysuru, the 20-year-old impressed everyone by claiming 261 points in the tournament, the second highest for a raider. The youngster scored a whopping 16 Super-10s in the tournament. The young athlete acknowledges the fact that height has been a big advantage for his success in sports.

“In volleyball most of the players are very tall, but that is not the case with kabaddi. My height helps me quite a lot when it comes to ‘hand touch’ and ‘bonus’ points,” said Gowda and accepted how height has helped him in sports. The youngster is always hungry to perform and always wants to give his best and exceed his own expectations, which is probably a key to his success.

Among the nine teams in the tournament, Gowda’s 16 Super raids have been the most for a player. Super raid is a raid in which a raider claims three points in a single raid. It is one of the most difficult feats in Kabaddi. The youngster claims Ajay Thakur as his idol and wishes to become a great player. The 20-year-old is currently going through his graduation in SDM College, Ujire, in Mangaluru.

Gowda currently trains under Krishnanand Rao, who has been the college team’s coach in the last 4-5 years. “My coach keeps telling me to focus on the ‘hand touch’ because of my height advantage. I work on that every day, keeping a third man to practice the move on, almost 50-60 times a day, which is around three hours of training,” said Gowda about his coach and training methods.

The youngster explained that weight became an enemy of his in the early part of his career. “Because of my height, my weight used to become an issue for me to qualify for the various age-categories. I missed out on two junior nationals because of the same reason. If I tried reducing my weight, it would make me more injury-prone,” said Gowda and expressed his disappointment of not getting selected in junior level teams.

Playing sport for the nation will be one of the topmost priorities for an athlete. It is not any different for Gagan, who is trying to give his best at the national level. The youngster believes that performing at the highest level can get the best from him. According to Gagan, participating in the Yuva Kabaddi Series has helped him a lot.

When I first told my parents about my desire to play kabaddi, they were afraid that I would get a lot of injuries. Now, they get very proud and happy when they see me playing in the Yuva Kabaddi Series on television and even scold me if I make any mistakes during matches,” said a smiling Gagan.

It is pretty evident that the youngster is a fast learner. The 20-year-old assesses his game himself and always works to become the best version of himself. Gowda’s intelligence and knowledge about position is praiseworthy. At a tender age, the Hampi Heroes’ raider has shown immense level of maturity, which can take him a long way given his craft.

For any raider, it’s imperative to keep a close eye on the defender’s movements, what their position is, if they are looking to move in towards you, you get a lot of information once you cross the line just from their body language, you just must be observant enough,” added the 20-year-old.

Despite Hampi Heroes getting eliminated from the tournament in the Challenger round, Gowda has continued to perform with his best form. It is only good news for Kabaddi, as youngsters like Gagan are the future of sport.

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