February 29, 2024

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Rohit Gulia sets his sights on shattering Pardeep Narwal’s record while leading Gujarat Giants to PKL glory

Rohit Gulia embarked on his Pro Kabaddi League journey as a new young player at Gujarat Giants in season five. He spent three seasons with the team, and during the first two seasons, the Giants finished as the runners-up. After stints with Haryana Steelers and Patna Pirates, Gulia returns to the Gujarat Giants for season 10. This time, the Ahmedabad-based franchise has named him as their vice-captain. With a wealth of experience, Gulia has set some ambitious goals for PKL 10. Here are excerpts from an exclusive interview with the Gujarat Giants vice-captain ahead of the season opener. Excerpts from Rohit Gulia’s exclusive interview with Sportskeeda Q. How do you feel about returning to Gujarat Giants? Rohit Gulia: I am really delighted. It’s my team, the place where I began my PKL journey. So, I’m feeling great. Q. You have been in two finals with Gujarat Giants. How did you feel when the team bought you at the auction? Rohit Gulia: I have many fond memories with Gujarat Giants. We reached the finals in season five and six. I am pleased that the coaches have once again shown confidence in me. I am eager to win the trophy this time and celebrate with the team. Q. You have previously played with Fazel Atrachali for Gujarat Giants. Fazel has returned to the Gujarat squad. Tell us about your rapport with him. Rohit Gulia: Our bond was very strong. Even without speaking, we were able to communicate through gestures. Fazel has been involved in kabaddi in India for a long time, so he understands us well. Q. You have played for three different teams. What have you learned from the coaches? Rohit Gulia: Every coach has their own style. I have picked up various things from Coach Ram Mehar, who has won the PKL thrice. He possesses a deep understanding of the game, having been a player himself. I am learning new things from him. I also learned valuable lessons from my previous coaches, who trained me well. Both Manpreet and Rakesh are former India players, and it was a great feeling when they helped me rectify my mistakes. Q. As an experienced raider, are you prepared for the challenges in PKL 10? Rohit Gulia: Parteek and Rakesh are there with me. There will be no challenges for me. Our coach will guide us on what needs to be done. Q. You achieved the highest points tally of your career last season, but the team did not perform well. How do you keep yourself motivated for the new season? Rohit Gulia: You need to focus on what’s ahead. We motivate ourselves so that we can do better in the next match. We feel that instead of scolding youngsters, we should motivate them. I believe Gujarat Giants can clinch the trophy this year. Q. Can you tell us about your personal training? Rohit Gulia: Everyone trains collectively. Coach watches us during practice and training sessions, observing our mistakes. I intend to try some new things in PKL 10, things that I have never attempted before. Q. Have you set any personal goals for PKL 10? Rohit Gulia: My primary goal is to win the trophy. We narrowly missed out in seasons five and six, so my aim is to give it my all. Q. Can you share your journey in kabaddi prior to PKL? Rohit Gulia: I have been playing kabaddi since my school days. I participated in village and school tournaments in Panipat. Former Jaipur Pink Panthers star Jasvir Singh and former Dabang Delhi KC captain Jasmer Singh hail from my area. So, I was inspired after witnessing their performances. I attended the NYP trials before the PKL. Gujarat team signed me following the NYP trials. Since then, I landed a job in the railways, and I have been playing for Railways and also in PKL. Q. How has PKL transformed your life?
Rohit Gulia: It has altered my life significantly. I had no knowledge about the kind of facilities, hotels, and food that are available, but thanks to PKL, we are able to experience them. The addition of facilities like physio and trainers has been remarkable. I don’t think kabaddi was played on mats before the PKL era. It was mostly at the international level, I believe. We have gained more recognition since PKL came into existence. The best part is that people are now familiar with us as kabaddi players. Q. If you weren’t a kabaddi player, which profession would you have pursued? Rohit Gulia: Kabaddi was highly popular in my village, so I never really contemplated anything else. Perhaps, I would have been working as a farmer. Q. Who is your role model in kabaddi? Rohit Gulia: I have learned a lot from Jasvir Singh and Jasmer Singh Gulia. I used to watch them play in tournaments.
Q. Are there any records you hope to break in PKL 10? Rohit Gulia: I will strive to surpass Pardeep Narwal’s record of 369 raid points in a season, which he achieved in season 5.