CHENNAI: Kabaddi has always been a sport close to the nation’s heart. India has been credited to have invented the sport, and that has shown in the way they have dominated. Unfortunately, kabaddi does not feature at the Olympics, despite repeated attempts to enter the game. India could have possibly won gold if the sport were to be held at the Games.
For the moment, it’s the World Cup that is the ultimate glory, and this time too, India will look to make it a no-contest. Add in the fact that they are the hosts, and things get a lot more interesting.
“Preparations have been going well. The camp started on August 27, and goes on till September 16. Everyone is in good mood, and that has only added to the atmosphere. But that being said, the World Cup is the biggest event, and all players are serious. There are some good teams, and we’ll have to be on our toes. Coach Balwan Singh has been doing a good job, and he’s put together a solid team,” India captain Anup Kumar told Express from the Gandhinagar SAI centre, where the camp is taking place.
Ahmedabad will be scene of the action, and the likes of Iran will also look to corner glory. The World Cup will witness 12 teams in action. The event begins on October 7, with the final slated for October 22.
“Iran will be our toughest opponents, no doubt. Obviously, we’ll have to watch out for Pakistan, while South Korea have slowly been raising their game. But we’ve the strongest squad, and judging by preparations, we’re confident,” noted Anup.
The 32-year-old extended his welcome to the Pakistan team, saying they get on very well off-field.
“India-Pakistan games are always big, and it’s no different in kabaddi. I’ve played a lot against them, and it’s always been a good experience. The biggest thing is that the World Cup is being held in India, so Pakistan are most welcome, and we hope they have a good time. Off the field, we are friends, and spend time together also. But we know where we stand, and no team can beat us if we play to potential.”
Asked if the Pro Kabaddi League, with its influx of foreign stars, could lead to players from other nations getting in on the strategies and secrets of the Indian team, Anup replied in the negative.
“See, it works both ways. If they come and notice what our team and players do, so will we. So, it won’t be a problem for us,” opined the two-time Asian Games gold winner.