New Delhi, Dec 8 (IANS): Amidst the electrifying performances that marked the beginning of Pro Kabaddi League (PKL) season 10, Gujarat Giants' captain, Fazel Atrachali, attributed the soaring popularity of the sport of Kabaddi to the PKL.
In an exclusive interaction with IANS, the Iranian defender, who has been a two-time winner of the PKL and a three-time Asian Games medallist said many individuals join Kabaddi aspiring to shine in the PKL, which offers a platform for future talent to flourish.
"Just because PKL, Kabaddi become popular. Because of PKL, numerous individuals have joined the sport with aim of playing in the PKL tournament. While other competitions typically last for a week or even five days, the PKL extends over an impressive 3-4 months, offering ample opportunities for players to showcase their skills. It opens doors for aspiring talents to shine brightly in the future.
Atrachali, who was part of the Giants squad when they reached the final in season 5 i.e. in 2017, became the most expensive defender in PKL Player Auction history this year when the Giants spent whooping Rs 1.6 Crores to secure the services of the seasoned defender.
Speaking about the team setup, the 31-year-old said: "Gujarat take good care of their players, there is a complete overhaul of their coaching staff from season 5. The team appears stronger, and I'm thrilled to be part of this improved setup."
Ahead of the beginning of season 10, Atrachali was named the captain of the franchise with experienced Ram Mehar Singh as the head coach.
He spoke highly of the head coach and said "Ram Meher is an exceptional coach known for his discipline." He added "Unlike many coaches who prioritize fitness over skills, he dedicates himself to improving our game, focusing on our strengths and weaknesses. In the PKL, he stands out as the best coach for his holistic approach to Kabaddi training."
Atrachali is the most successful defender in PKL history and also holds the records for the most tackle points (432) and most successful tackles (406).
Head Sports Leagues, Mashal Sports and League Commissioner, Pro Kabaddi League Anupam Goswami lauded the Iranian defender as "one of the greatest defenders" for his prowess and said Atrachali epitomizes Kabaddi's internationalism.
"Fazel Atrachali is one of the greatest defenders of all time in our sport, especially PKL. Alongside his fantastic athletic benchmarks, he exemplifies the internationalism of India’s sport of Kabaddi.
"If Kabaddi is ever to get entry to the Olympics, having Fazel and other international players like him in the Kabaddi Hall of Fame would be so important to making a case for our sport," said Goswami.