The star raider spoke about his support system on and off the mat.

At 19 when most of us were worried about our college assignments, Naveen Kumar was busy making history for Dabang Delhi by taking the team to their first-ever Pro Kabaddi League (PKL) finals.

Millions watched with awe and excitement as this child-like assassin made raid after raid straight into the finals of the tournament. His leopard-like agility and reflexes allowed him to escape from defenders well before they could react to his movement.

But being just fast is usually not enough, especially when you are a young player and carrying the responsibility of his team on your strappy shoulders. He has a simple hack for the pressure that builds up in his head.

“I just focus on the moment and on things that I can control in the match. Worrying about things you cannot change just increases your stress without providing any results,” Naveen Kumar said to PKL.

A product of Mashal Sports’ Future Kabaddi Heroes (FKH) Programme, he also credits the senior players of his team for helping him maintain his composure.

Naveen Kumar remarked, “I am blessed to have players like Joginder ji and Ravinder ji in my team, they make sure I focus only on my game and don’t succumb to pressure.”

On role of the family

What we usually see as performance pressure is often the fear of letting others down. At such points in the game, it helps to have a mentor who puts an arm around your shoulder to give you the strength and courage needed for a fruitful raid.

Apart from the coaching staff and senior team members, the young player also has rock steady support in the form of his family. He stated, “My family keeps talking to me during the league and encourages me to take more risks without worrying about results.”

His pre-match ritual always includes having a chat with his family. Young players need to be nurtured and encouraged to express themselves onfield and such positive changes from the grassroots level will make sure we see much more Naveen Kumars in the coming years.

By focusing on their individual development, and by emphasizing the importance of learning and effort over their natural abilities, we not only help these players, but we also give those that will go on to make it in the professional game the best possible foundation which they can build their future success on.

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