When Amarjet Singh hoisted the World Cup Kabaddi trophy in Melaka last year, it was a fulfillment of a journey that started with his late father Inder Singh.
Coming from Haryana, an Indian state where kabaddi is almost a religion, Amarjeet wanted to prove himself worthy of the sport.
His father was an accomplished kabaddi player in both the circle and national style formats of the game and represented the state at numerous national level competitions. But Amarjeet himself was never able to see his father in action as Inder passed away in 1994 when Amarjeet was just four-years-old.
“I am sure he is very happy wherever he is now. Perhaps he may expect much more from me and I will try to do that,” said Amarjeet.
The 30-year-old was also picked as the Best Player of the 2019 World Cup Kabaddi.
“Even my father’s friends in my village appreciate my achievement so far and would say that I have fulfilled my father’s dream,” said Amarjeet.
The prolific raider picked up the game seriously 2002 and his talents were on show as he went on to represent Haryana at the 2004, 2005, 2006 and 2007 National Championships. He helped the state win the titles in 2005 and 2007.
“My dad was one of the reasons I picked up the game and with the blessings of my ancestors, I am now playing for India and in turn raise the name of village, state and country,” said Amarjeet.
He added that his mother, Bohti Devi, has been a pillar in his pursuance of kabaddi since he was a youngster.
Just like he had stepped into his father’s shoes, Amarjeet’s eldest son has also started playing kabaddi.
“Of course he has started playing in the village. Kabaddi is in our blood,” said Amarjeet, who is married to Parveen Devi. The couple has been blessed with two kids – six-year-old Abhi and two-year-old Anish.
From the junior level, Amarjeet went on to represent Haryana at the senior level, winning the National Championships bronze in 2011 and 2012 and the silver in 2018.
He added that his coach Dilbag Singh was instrumental in his progress from a newbie to a much stronger player now.
“I come from a village called Guhna in the district of Khaital and it was him that that guided and moulded many of us to be good players,” he added.
Amarjeet had also captained the Pune Pride team to the silver at the inaugural Indo International Premier Kabaddi League last year. And it was no surprise that he was also selected as the Best Player at the professional kabaddi league.
“When I first started playing kabaddi, it was my dream to make it to the international level and I knew that I would be able to achieve it with hardwork,” said Amarjet, who also wrestle and plays football.
The 30-year-old also spends plenty of time to teach the sport to the children in his village.
“I like to teach the children. I want to build a fit and healthy society. Kabbadi is a game for the masses, which is connected to soil. You don’t need money to play the game,” said Amarjeet.
While international kabaddi is played on foam mats, in India and the rest of South Asia, the game is still predominantly played outdoors on clay courts.
“Teaching children is great. It does not matter whether they belongs to poor or rich families. All are same and play the same,” said Amarjeet.
He said that it was important for the senior players to step in and help guide a new generation of players.
“The game has also grown in India where you can also earn name and fame as well as money. But a successful future depends of a lot of hardwork and sweat that needs to be put in,” said Amarjeet.
“In my country everyone loves kabbadi. Many of senior players are very helpful to the youngsters.”
It may be too early to tell, but don’t be surprised when in the near future the next generation in Amarjeet’s family takes over the reign.
And be rest assured that the entire village of Guhna will be there to celebrate a new generation of kabaddi players.