Mumbai, April 8: The Haryana Steelers on Sunday announced Rakesh Kumar, one of India's most decorated Kabaddi players, as the franchise's Head Coach ahead of the seventh season of Pro Kabaddi League.
Kumar replaces Rambir Singh Khokhar, who was with the team since its entry into the league two seasons ago. Having made his senior India debut in 2003, the 36-year old from Nizampur had an illustrious career winning two World Cup golds and three Asian Games golds with the national team.
Kumar was the most expensive player in the inaugural edition of the league, where he was picked up by the Patna Pirates as the team's captain for the season. He has played 55 matches in the PKL, earning 260 points through the first five seasons of the league.
His return to the PKL will be Kumar's first coaching stint.
"I am excited about returning to the PKL mat as coach of the Haryana Steelers and am thankful to the franchise for giving me this opportunity. It is my first time as Head Coach of a team and I intend to lead this team after the auction through hard work and discipline to ensure we can take the team to the top of the league," Kumar said on the eve of the 2019 auction.
The Haryana Steelers, owned by JSW Sports, entered the PKL in 2017 and reached the playoffs in their debut season. However, they came up with a disappointing performance in the sixth season.
The team is now looking to start afresh with the Season VII auction on Monday, having retained the services of 21-year old star raider Vikash Kandola and all-rounder Kuldeep Singh.