Rishank Devadiga opens up about his rise through the ranks and the growth of Kabaddi in India due to the Pro Kabaddi League.
The inception of Pro Kabaddi League has been a boon for the traditional Indian sport that was considered too “Desi” to be a mainstream success. This success has led to the mushrooming of a plethora of Kabaddi players who are now household names in India.
U Mumbai, the Mumbai-based PKL franchise is perhaps one of the most popular teams in theA� league due to their presence in a big metro city like Mumbai. They also enjoy the support of the Maharashtra belt that has given rise to some top Kabaddi professionals through the years.
One such Mumbai local lad who has been a rising star in Indian Kabaddi is Rishank Devadiga, the former U Mumba raider. He was picked up by the GMR Group owned franchise from Uttar Pradesh, U.P Yoddha in the Season 5 Auction for a hefty sum of INR 45.5 Lakhs.
Rishank Devadiga played for four seasons for U Mumba in the Pro Kabaddi league. He played under the charismatic captain and the biggest star in Indian Kabaddi, Anup Kumar and flourished under him. He was U Mumba’s designated Do-or-Die raid specialist. Now, Rishank Devadiga has moved to newer frontiers and will have to step up to make a mark for the new franchise in the league.
All the stardom that Rishank has gathered through the four years due to PKL has been a result of hardwork, dedication and perseverance. Rishank’s story of rise from obscurity to fame is a hugely inspiring one for any person.
His father passed away when he was a 3-year old child. His mother single-handedly brought him and his sister up. Rishank says, ” My mother struggled a lot to raise me and my sister up. With the loss of my father at an early age, all the responsibility had fallen on my mother’s shoulders. But she persevered and educated me and my sister. I am what I am because of her and will stay forever indebted to her. Today, whatever I do in my life, I first think of my mother and then proceed.”
Growing up, Rishank started playing Kabaddi near grounds in Vakola in Mumbai. His talent was spotted by one of the selectors of district level team and Rishank was then called for trials. He was selected for the Mumbai district team and played for them for a while. But due to family responsibilities, he could not commit completely to the game. He worked in the hotel management industry and tried to play Kabaddi on his off-days. He used to go play for local tournaments around Mumbai. One of the turning points in his career was when he was offered a job by a company to play Kabaddi for their company team.
Rishank weighed all his options, talked to his mother and decided to take up the new job that allowed him to continue his Kabaddi playing career. Soon, he rose amongst the ranks in the Kabaddi circuit and was picked up by U Mumba when PKL came around. And the rest, as they say is history.
Rishank Devadiga was upbeat about the rise of Kabaddi in India over the last three years. He says, “We never thought that Kabaddi would become so popular in India. When I started, I never thought one day people would recognize me and I will be asked for autographs. It has been really good and I am glad I could be a part of it.”
Rishank Devadiga on new challenges for Season 5
Having played for four seasons for U Mumba, the transition to a new team can be tough for any player. Rishank comments, “Playing for U Mumba was an immensely learning experience for me. Being a local lad, I was proud to represent my city in the league. We enjoyed huge fan support and I will always be grateful to the Mumbai fans.”
“It will be tough initially to adjust to a new franchise. But I am a professional and as players, we know that we have to go through this phase in our lives. I see it as an opportunity to learn and I will give my best to do so.”
The PKL will be played over 13 weeks this year and the players’ fitness will play a crucial role for the season. Rishank agrees, “Our training camp has been focused on physical fitness since the league is longer this time around. We have to play a more strategic game rather than exhausting ourselves physically. To play at our optimum level for the entirety, we have to adapt ourselves.”
On the new franchise UP Yoddha, Rishank says, ” A new team always comes with a challenge to make their mark on the league. We have a good bunch of players like Nitin Tomar, Jeeva Kumar, Surender Singh and the training has been going really well. We are up to the task and will be aiming to achieve a good finish and mark the arrival of UP Yoddha with a bang in the Pro Kabaddi League.”
Pro Kabaddi kicks off on the 28th of July in Hyderabad and the final will be played on October 28.