The 25-year-old spoke at length about his career and recent struggles in the pandemic.

India’s captain Deepak Hooda got candid in an interview recently. He talked about the importance of the Pro Kabaddi League, the challenges of playing a contact sport in times of the pandemic and his family’s struggles that inspired him as a player.

While talking about his past, Deepak Hooda said, “When I was 4 years old, my mother passed away and in class 12, I lost my father. I also have an elder sister who was married but due to some family problems, she was staying with us with her two kids and I was taking care of them. I had to leave my studies at that time.”

“To run the household expenses, I used to go teach in a private school. I also started playing Kabaddi side by side. I used to practice till 6-6:30 am in the morning and then go and teach in the school. I used to come back home by 2-2:30 pm and then again go for the evening practice till 7:30-8 pm at night. During those days, for around 1.5-2 years, I used to also practice post-dinner for 2-3 hours under street lights.” 

In an interaction on Sports Tiger’s show Building Bridge, he also expressed the struggles he has had to face during the pandemic to continue practicing Kabaddi, a close contact sport. Deepak Hooda stated, “During the start of COVID-19, there were a few problems but we managed. I feel good, we were waiting for Kabaddi to start. We were tired of just practicing, we wanted to play Kabaddi. We were always at home, roaming inside or be on the terrace. We were missing the competition,”

The all-rounder led the Indian kabaddi team to a gold medal in the 2019 South Asian Games and he referenced the past few years as being the most important for his career. He remarked, “In 2016, I made my India debut and played the South Asian Games and the World Cup in the same year and have been playing since then.”

“For the 2019 South Asian Games, trials were on for team selection when it was decided that I will be the captain. Initially, for a player, just getting the Indian jersey is like a dream come true moment. Then getting medals in top tournaments like World Cup, Asian Games, when the national anthem plays after winning a gold medal, it is a very emotional moment. After that, being made the captain of the national team is a matter of great pride for me as well as for any player.” 

Deepak Hooda expressed his gratitude towards the Pro Kabaddi League and holding it responsible for the upliftment of the sport in the country.

“The actual growth of Kabaddi and that so many people know us, has happened after the Pro Kabaddi League. Earlier International tournaments like the Asian Games and the World cup used to take place but very few followed the game. People follow what is seen on TV,” he concluded.