Mumbai: Former India kabaddi captain Anup Kumar surprised everyone when he announced his retirement from the sport mid-way during the sixth season of the Pro Kabaddi League (PKL) last year. He amazed everyone further when he decided to take up the job of coach. But Anup has started to feel the heat in his new role and is no longer calm or cool in his approach.
Five months after hanging his boot as a player, Anup, who had led India to gold medals in the 2010 and 2014 Asian Games, was appointed as the new head coach for Puneri Paltan. The charismatic leader was expected to replicate his show as a coach, but Anup feels there is a huge difference between the two roles.
Speaking to IANS, the 35-year-old said: "No, I'm not that cool or relaxed in my new role as I feel there is much difference between playing on the mat and coaching the players from outside. As a coach, you have to keep on passing information to the players and keep a close eye on their every move when they are on the mat every now and then. Whenever I played, I captained my side and I feel it is easy to control a team as a skipper, who has to simply direct the players and they listen.
"When you coach, you have to sit outside and instruct every seven players individually what their roles should be on every occasion and I see that is quite challenging," Anup admitted.
At 35, Anup is the youngest coach of any team in PKL and he felt that it was an added advantage for him.
"The biggest advantage with me is that I have played the league for a long time and so, understand it better, be it the rules and regulations or conditions of the league. So, it helps us in imparting that understanding to our players," the Pune coach opined. "I don't mean the other coaches, who haven't played the league, don't have that knowledge or understanding of it as they have been coaching from the first season. But I have been there as players and moreover there is not much generation gap with players so yes, this is an added advantage for me."
Pune have kicked-off their season on a dismal note as they lost all their three games so far, and Anup is disappointed with the show as he desires to take his team to the finals.
Commenting on the challenges as a coach, Anup said: "There is a big challenge for me as a coach and it is that I have to take my team to the PKL finals. But the major hurdle is that we have lost all our initial three games.
"If you win your initial games, it not only develops a momentum but also helps you in boosting your player's confidence level and raises your belief in your team's capacity. But that is what were we are lacking."
The former India captain also felt the league has witnessed many changes in the past seven seasons.
"Earlier, there were not such strict rules as players were free to roam and do things they wished but now the conditions are not like that. Even, the number of youngsters in the league has swiftly gone up and look at their auction prices, which used to be around 10-12 lakhs is now touching crores. I think it is good not only for the league but also for Indian kabaddi," Anup concluded.