With four new teams being added, the 2017 Pro Kabaddi auction marked the beginning of a new chapter in the history of the league. A total of Rs 46.99 crore was spent to procure the services of 227 players, and men like Tomar, Rohit Kumar (Rs 81 lakh) and Manjeet Chhillar (Rs 75.5 lakh) took home the lion’s share of the money. For Tomar, the amount is something he couldn’t even imagine in his dreams. “Before Pro Kabaddi, it was difficult to sustain oneself, and there would not be enough food,” he said, in a telephonic interview. Now, he plans to spend the money to buy a house and get his sister married, among other things.
The pressure of the price tag is big, and Tomar is just 22 years of age. In football, you have the case of Paul Pogba, who was bought by Manchester United for a record £89.3 million (which is more than Rs 700 crore in Indian currency), and there were a lot of expectations from fans. Unfortunately, Pogba failed to deliver, and came under a lot of scrutiny from the media.
Tomar will hope that a similar story doesn’t play out in his case. “I hope we reach the finals, with the support of my fans,” he said. He also hopes that he does justice to the price tag by making as many successful raids as possible. So far, he has played 22 matches in the league and made 98 successful raids, worth 110 points. His defensive skills are far from great, though, as he has managed a meagre 5 defence points and made 15 unsuccessful tackles. If you compare these stats with those of an all-rounder like Manjeet Chhillar, you’ll find Tomar’s price tag a little expensive – but then, he is 22 and Chhillar is 30. It makes perfect sense to invest in a promising young player who can stay with the team for a long time.
In last year’s Kabaddi World Cup, Tomar played a supporting role and made 20 successful raids, which is far less than Ajay Thakur, who made 54 successful raids. Still, Tomar’s speed and intelligence on the mat were beyond any question.
Kabaddi was not Tomar’s first love – it was wrestling. He had two uncles who were wrestlers, and a young Tomar would receive wrestling lessons from them. “I started playing kabaddi during my school days, and that is where I became more interested in the game,” he said.
He hasn’t let success go to his head, and there is no hint of arrogance in his voice. In fact, Tomar knows that he is still growing as a player, and there is a lot that he can learn from his seniors. I ask Tomar if there is an actor he would like to play him, if there was ever a biopic made on his life. Tomar replied modestly, “Making films is not our job, so I can’t say. Our job is to play kabaddi, and that is what I focus on.”