Jeeva Kumar was one of India’s legendary kabaddi players. He was one of the key men in the country’s gold medal-winning kabaddi team in the Asian Games in 2010 in Guangzhou and also one of the key members of the gold medal-winning Indian team in the SAF Games. He was famous as a ‘Super Tackle Specialist’ in the Indian kabaddi fraternity. As the key defender of the team, Jeeva played a major role in guiding his Pro-Kabaddi League (PKL) side U Mumba to clinch the title in 2015. Even as a defender Jeeva in his seventh season in the PKL became the highest scorer with 39 points. Jeeva has participated in the PKL since its beginning in 2014 till the last season as a player. This has been the first year in the ongoing PKL Jeeva Kumar is participating in the franchise league as the assistant coach of UP Yoddhas.
The Beginning of Jeeva Kumar
Jeeva Kumar’s father was a farmer. They lived in a remote village named Kurucchi in the Kanyakumari district. Jeeva’s school was near the renowned Alakaranthai Club. He has two elder brothers and elder sisters also. Being the youngest in the family Jeeva was a pampered child. One of the elder brothers was a serious kabaddi player and Jeeva was inspired by his brother and started learning the game at Alakaranthai Club under the tutelage of renowned coach Ravichandran. Jeeva said over the phone,
“I was studying 8th standard in school when I started learning the game. Initially, my parents did not support me much. They often asked me to concentrate on my studies. But once I started showing impressive performance at the state level they believed that I could make my future as a full-time kabaddi player.”
The Eye-Catching Career of Jeeva Kumar
Jeeva Kumar who is an employee of the State Bank of India (SBI) now lives in Bangalore with his wife and two daughters.
The defender started his journey in the PKL when it began in 2014. He was drafted by U Mumba in the first PKL and had an outstanding season, accumulating 16 tackle points in only nine games. In his second season, he had a total of 38 tackle points and 7 Super Tackles in 13 games. He was called the greatest defender in that season, picking up 7 Super Tackles and propelling his side to their first PKL title in the second season. He also had a memorable sixth season with UP Yoddhas where he was able to rack up 44 tackle points and seven ‘Super Tackles’ in 22 games, setting a new personal high in the PKL.
Jeeva Kumar on the Development of Kabaddi in India
Jeeva sounded satisfied with the grass route programs on kabaddi, going on in Tamil Nadu and a few other states. But he seems a little upset about the lack of nourishing players at the senior level.
“There are a lot of talented players at the junior level. The clubs as well as the state associations are encouraging those young players. But once the junior players reach the senior level their performance is declining. They should be nurtured by the clubs and state associations also. They seem to be losing focus.”
Jeeva had huge applause for the PKL. He believes Pro-Kabaddi League is playing a crucial role in helping Indian players to improve their quality. Jeeva said,-- Advertisement --
“The players from top foreign countries like Iran, Korea, Sri Lanka, and Japan are participating in the PKL, and Indian players getting the opportunity to play against them. This is actually helping them to develop their game quality.”
Jeeva admitted he will not be able to produce international players as his mentor and coach Ravichandran has been doing for the last three decades. Rather the 40-year-old former player has plans to roam around and scout talented players and bring them to the mainstream.
“There are several high-quality players in remote areas who are not getting needed exposure. My plans are to roam around and find them out and finally help them to play the game in the mainstream. Ravichandran sir has been able to produce so many international players mainly because he has been a permanent resident of his place. He does not have to get transferred from one place to another where I am compelled to. Naturally, it will not be possible for me to introduce any permanent set-up or school in one place.”