Why Growing Up in Haryana Almost Made Sandeep Narwal Quit Kabaddi

He has won India the World Cup and an Asian Games bronze, but there was a time when Sandeep wanted to quit kabaddi.

2 min read

Video Editor: Kunal Mehra


Being born and brought up in Haryana’s Sonepat region was one of the main reasons why Sandeep Narwal started playing kabaddi. But that same place, a breeding ground for kabaddi players in India, became the reason why he was almost going to quit the sport too.

I felt there was nothing in kabaddi. When I went for trials at the state and national level 19 players used to get selected, and even after working so hard in the end my name used to be left out.
Sandeep Narwal

Sangharsh”, which translates to hardwork, is a word Sandeep repeated several times while talking about his kabaddi journey.

“I started playing kabaddi in the fourth or fifth standard at the school level. Then I kept moving forward, played U-14, U-17 and U-19 regularly. Then there was Junior Nationals and in 2010 I played the Junior Asiad. I played both tournaments in the same year. After that my aim was to play for India soon. One has to work hard to make it in the team. In 2013 I played the Senior Nationals for Haryana, and since have been playing it regularly.”

“Playing the kabaddi nationals in Haryana is like playing for India.”

Sandeep first impressed with his performance for Patna Pirates in the first edition of the Pro Kabaddi League in 2014. He entered the tournament as an unknown name, and exited as a future prospect for the national camp.

Last year, Sandeep had been picked up by Puneri Paltan for a massive bid of Rs 72.6 lakh, and retained for the ongoing sixth edition.

The 25-year-old made his international debut when he was picked in the Indian squad for the 2016 South Asian Games. Since then he has been regular feature in the Indian side, and was part of the teams that won the World Cup in 2016, and the bronze at the 2018 Asian Games.

I played the World Cup in Ahmedabad in 2016. There we had won the final, and winning a gold is a completely different joy. Going for the Asian Games is a different pressure. Though we lost in the semi-finals, I learnt a lot. We had never lost the Asian Games gold. There was no pressure on them, the pressure was on us to win the gold. 
Sandeep Narwal

“You know what they say about not having anything to lose but you don’t let the other person win either. So that’s what happened,” he added.

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