MUMBAI: The fifth season of the Pro Kabaddi League promises to be bigger and better. With the introduction of four new teams — Gujarat Fortune Giants, Haryana Steelers, UP Yoddhas and Tamil Thalaivas, 138 matches are going to be played over three months.
With the league scaling new heights with each passing season, the challenges to meet expectations of fans are also growing.
While it’s going to be tough for organisers to keep audiences engaged over 90 days, it will also be an uphill task for players to maintain peak fitness levels for the entire duration of the tournament.
To cope with pressures of high-intensity games and travelling, there is one team that is trying to take fitness of it’s players to a different level — U Mumba.
One of the most consistent sides in the competition, U Mumba for now are just concentrating on building necessary strength to keep up with rigours of such a long tournament, and are currently training for the same in Dehradun.
Such is their dedication towards improving fitness standards that until now, they haven’t started skill training.
“For the past 20 days, we’ve been in Dehradun, doing just strength-building training. We haven’t stepped on the mat. Fitness is one area that we’re focusing on right now,” skipper Anup Kumar told Express.
With four new teams coming in, a lot of shuffling in existing teams has taken place. Though that has made way for a lot of youngsters, what it has ensured is that teams can’t really make strategies against opponents, at least for the first few matches.
“Mostly all teams have changes. We’ve lots of youngsters coming in, and some experienced players going out. It’ll be exciting to see how the teams and players react to this change. It’s going to take us some time to figure out strategies against opposition.”
U Mumba, who as a team rely a lot on attack, courtesy Anup and Kashiling Adake, could be found wanting as far as defense is concerned. The team doesn’t really have an experienced defender, which could hurt them as the tournament progresses.
“The only area of concern could be defense. But having said that, we’ve a team that can surprise any opposition. So we’re not worried about that,” Anup concluded.