RUNNERS-UP in the inaugural edition and now on the brink of reaching their second successive finale, U Mumba have come a long way in the Pro Kabaddi season 2. Not only have they finished the league stage as table-toppers, but they’re also the title favourites this year.
And rightly so, much of the credit for U Mumba’s success on the court goes to their skipper, Anup Kumar. Vice-captain of the Indian national team, Anup’s cool and calculated approach to each game has brought in plenty of fortune to U Mumba. The star raider has been instrumental in U Mumba’s blazing form this year that saw them lose just two league games. And it’s not just the love of fans that he has earned, but also the respect and praise of his teammates as well as coach, E Bhaskaran.
“He is as cool as ice. I was raw and in awe of the flashing lights, the cameras zooming in on our faces and the large and vociferous crowds. I was too scared and didn’t know how to react. He tapped me on my shoulder and asked me not to worry and told me to just follow his advice. It was because of his encouragement that I am now a well-known player”, defender Surinder Nada tells TOI.
“Anger is not a solution to any problem,” says Anup. “A cool mind helps you to assess situations well. It helps you take the right decision at the right time.”
To his credentials, Anup was part of the team that clinched the gold medal at the Asian Games in 2010 and 2014. The 30-year old Deputy Commissioner of Police from Haryana is also an Arjuna Awardee, which was conferred upon him in 2012.
This year, U Mumba have been coming across as one of the toughest teams to beat, right from the start. The team has won 12 of their 14 games and their coach couldn’t be any happier. He is willingly showering praises on the cool captain.
“As a captain, I can’t do much when the game is on. This year the time-outs too, have been reduced to a minute-and-a-half each, which does not leave too much time for me to strategize. Here, Anup and his cool attitude comes in handy. He becomes a coach among his teammates and guides them exactly the way I would have in each situation. He has an amazing ability to grasp whatever I tell him”, says Bhaskaran, also the coach of the Indian national team.
Son of an Army man, Anup grew up in a small village in Gurgaon and played Kabaddi to pass his time at school. His talent was spotted by Amarsingh Yadav, the then coach of the CRPF team. Anup joined the CRPF in 2005 as a constable and went on to represent the Delhi team. There was no looking back for Anup, who made his national debut just a year later. The rest, as they say, is history.
U Mumba will be taking on the Patna Pirates in the second semi-final on Friday, and Anup Kumar would love for his team to get one step closer to the coveted Pro Kabaddi trophy.