The emergence of Pro Kabaddi League (PKL) back in 2014 opened the doors of opportunity for the country’s young and seasoned players. PKL has had two successful seasons so far, with an overwhelming response from the crowd, who have reacted well to one of India’s traditional games.
The League has thrown up many stars who are key members of their teams and favourites among the faithful fans. The 23-year-old Rishank Devadiga, who has cemented his place as one of U Mumba’s key players after some impressive shifts on the mat in the last two seasons.
The courageous pursuit of his dreams
Rishank was born in Mumbai and has been in the city ever since, except for a brief while when his family had to return to the coastal village of Gangolli in Karnataka’s Udupi district as his auto-rickshaw driver father died in a drowning accident when the lad was but three years old. Rishank is considered by the U Mumba fans as one of their own, crediting him with being the home boy of the championship winning team.
Rishank’s hard work combined with his passion for the game to bring him here, despite the poverty the family faced. But his mother, Parvati, did not lose hope and courageously relocated to Mumbai where he followed his dream. There was a time when Rishank quit the game briefly since he had to work at a very young age.
Convincing the sceptical
Rishank started playing kabaddi when he was eight years old and starred in various levels. His mother was initially opposed to the idea of his taking up the game on a professional level but she was soon convinced about his abilities and backed him to take his game to the next level.
Rishank started playing for Dena Bank. His performances caught attention and he was soon representing Mumbai and Maharashtra in the National championships. His bright performances saw Rishank being called up to the National camp for the Asian Games, a move which would change the course of his life, as he was picked up by U Mumba during the PKL player auctions.
More than your regular raider
U Mumba has progressed to the final of the PKL in both seasons, winning it once. Like captain Anup Kumar or fellow local lad Vishal Mane, Rishank has played a significant part in the team’s success. Playing alongside Anup Kumar has only helped Rishank evolve as a player.
Rishank is more than a regular raider. He has become a pivotal link between attack and defence for his team and his contribution speaks for itself, gaining decent number of points at both ends of the mat, because of his speed, agility and lack of fear. He is mature on the mat and shows no signs of weakness irrespective of the stature of the opponent in front of him.
A brighter future awaits
Rishank Devadiga, who now works for Bharat Petroleum and is looking to acquire a degree, has brought credit to the kabaddi culture in Mumbai and Maharashtra. It may not be long before the son of a small-time beauty parlour owner and a late auto-rickshaw driver becomes a fixture in the Indian team.