CHENNAI: “The aim is to win a couple of games against England and Australia. We know where we stand, and progression from the group stages is virtually out of the question. But we will give our best, which is most important.”
This was Argentina coach Ricardo Acuna’s response when asked what expectations the South Americans had come with to India for the Kabaddi World Cup, to be held in Ahmedabad from October 7 to 22.
It was the International Kabaddi Federation’s support that ensured Argentina entered the 12-team event. “The IKF supported the idea of our participation and it was on their request that we decided to come to India. It’s a platform to learn from traditional powerhouses like India and Iran,” said Acuna.
The coach noted that acclimatising to India wasn’t easy. “This is a new era for kabaddi in Argentina. But India hasn’t been easy on us. Food and language are obviously problems, but we’re learning to adjust to those. Only two people from our contingent, the skipper (Sebastian De Socia Elias) and I speak English. But the country and it’s people have been hospitable,” Ricardo said.
Argentina is a country with great sporting pedigree. But kabaddi is nowhere in terms of popularity. Sebastian believes promotion can change that.
“Kabaddi can improve its standing back home if the right promotion is done. It has to be spread at the school level, and the more children play, the more it will become a part of the public conscience. The World Cup is a great opportunity to take back some knowledge about the sport back,” said Sebastian, who’s main profession is as a professor in Physical Education.
The skipper also revealed that they watch the Pro Kabaddi League. “It doesn’t come on TV, but we make sure to stream it online and catch the action. Watching the league has helped us plan and prepare ourselves as best as possible,” he said.
Argentina have been drawn in Pool A, alongside India, Bangladesh, England, Australia and South Korea. The South Americans start their campaign against South Korea on October 9.