The Haryana Steelers on Sunday announced Rakesh Kumar, one of India’s most decorated Kabaddi players, as the franchise’s Head Coach ahead of the Pro Kabaddi Season VII. Kumar replaces Rambir Singh Khokhar who was with the team since its entry into the league two seasons ago. Having made his senior India debut in 2003, the 36-year old from Nizampur had an illustrious career winning two World Cup Golds and three Asian Games Golds with the national team.
Kumar brings a wealth of experience in the Pro Kabaddi League and was the most expensive player in the inaugural season of the league, where he was picked up by the Patna Pirates as the team’s captain for the season. He has played 55 matches in the PKL, earning 260 points through the first five seasons of the league. His return to the PKL will be Kumar’s first coaching stint.
“I am excited about returning to the PKL mat as coach of the Haryana Steelers and am thankful to the franchise for giving me this opportunity. It is my first time as Head Coach of a team and I intend to lead this team after the auction through hard work and discipline to ensure we can take the team to the top of the league,” Kumar said on the eve of the 2019 auction.
Mustafa Ghouse, Chief Executive Officer -- JSW Sports, welcomed the latest addition to the team’s coaching staff. “We are thrilled to have Rakesh join us and are looking forward to him bringing his vast experience as a player and leader to the Steelers setup. He brings a strong winning mentality to the team and will play an important role in guiding our young players to achieve their potential,” said Ghouse.
The Haryana Steelers, owned by JSW Sports, entered the Pro Kabaddi League in 2017 and reached the playoffs in their debut season. After a disappointing performance in Season VI, the team is looking to start afresh with the Season VII auction on Monday, having retained the services of 21-year old star raider Vikash Kandola and all-rounder Kuldeep Singh.