The 20-year-old raider is the first player born in the 2000s to feature in the league.
Naveen Kumar made a mark with his commendable performances for Dabang Delhi in the seventh season of the Pro Kabaddi League. His ability to consistently bag the Super 10s, which is a remarkable feat to achieve for any raider, made him a fan favourite in the league last season.
In 23 encounters last campaign, Naveen Kumar managed to notch 22 Super 10s. That roughly translates to him acquiring ten points or more in almost every game that he played.
He was third in the list of the most successful raiders in the league. Naveen earned 303 raid points, as only Pawan Kumar Sehrawat and Pardeep Narwal surpassed him in the list. In an exclusive chat with Prokabaddi.com, he explained the intricacies of his gameplay that propelled him to have a fortunate outing in the seventh edition of the competition.
He stated, “I think it is my technique that sets me apart from the rest. The coach had told me beforehand that my reaction time is quite fast. The faster I get, the better my skills are and the more I work on improving my reaction time, the more impossible I will be to stop.”
However, one of the facets of a prodigious athlete lies in his ability to maintain a constant, unbothered demeanor equally in both success and defeat. At just 19 years of age, Naveen Kumar seems to have gained a massive control over the same.
“I never set a target of scoring a Super 10 in every match. I just tried to do my best for the team. I wasn’t even aware that I was on the verge of breaking Pardeep’s record of eight Super 10s in a row till the day of the match against U Mumba,” said the raider.
To put it into context, the match against U Mumba was the one where he equalled Pardeep’s record. In fact, Delhi had finished at the top of the points table in the league stage, and Naveen Kumar was critical for their fruitful run right from the start. They had set the momentum from the beginning itself. On that, he observed, “Scoring Super 10s in the initial matches increased my drive to do even better for my team.”
Naveen Kumar praised his captain Joginder Narwal and coach Krishan Kumar Hooda for their support in his remarkable season. He said, “Joginder has always been a calming presence on the mat. He has always given me a lot of confidence in my abilities and he is always backing me to do well, no matter the situation. He has been a great source of motivation for me.”
“The coach was also constantly pushing me to improve during the training camp. He spoke to me at length about the weaknesses in my game and helped me eliminate them ahead of the season. His attention to detail is incredible and he was able to weed out the small errors that end up costing points. That is what led to an improvement in my performances,” Naveen concluded.