Gujarat Fortune Giants ready to dazzle PKL, says Manpreet Singh

Manpreet Singh - first coach in Pro Kabaddi 2017 - to have also featured in the competition as captain of a champion team, expressed his thoughts on building a new side - Gujarat Fortune Giants (GFG) - challenges of captaincy in Pro Kabaddi and the logic behind a switch from playing to coaching.

Manpreet Singh: 'We at Gujarat Fortune Giants will do something not seen before in four seasons of Pro Kabaddi'.   -  Special Arrangement

Manpreet Singh had guided the Patna Pirates to a 31-28 win over U Mumba, leading the unit to its maiden Pro Kabaddi (PK) tittle in 2016, at New Delhi’s Indira Gandhi Indoor stadium.

Now, as the  Gujarat Fortune Giants (GFG) trained at SAI, Gandhinagar, before leaving for Hyderabad to make its debut in PK season five, Sportstar caught up with its coach for a freewheeling chat. 

Here are some excerpts from the interview:

Q: There is a lot of talk about teams winning in debut season. From experience, you know there is a difference between expectation and reality. Your thoughts…

A: Sacrifices and efforts are needed to make thoughts in life into reality. Looking at the performance and the talent in this young bunch, even if they achieve 50 per cent of their potential, the trophy is ours. There are twelve teams in the fray, each one dreaming of winning the title. We at GFG will do something not seen before in four seasons of Pro Kabaddi.

Q: As member of  a winning squad at Patna Pirates (Pro Kabaddi season three), how many seasons were needed to understand player skills and mould a group of performers into a winning combination?

A: Patna Pirates entered the semi-finals in two seasons, but did not advance beyond the stage on (both occasions). Season Three, we had the same bunch, only the captain changed. Patna chose me in the hope that I would guide the young players and bring out the best in them.

I accepted the challenge, and we trained together at SAI Centre, Gandhinagar for 45 days (GFG's training base). The thinking used then remains the same now with a new team. Patna won because players were able to execute planned moves in the matches. I can see the same skill in the Gujarat group and they are giving their 100 per cent.

Q: Can a switch in captaincy have a bearing on the results? This season, you  turned to coaching. Is that the way ahead for other senior professionals?

A: Patna captain (Pardeep Narwal) was young and so may have found it tough to deal with the situation.  After taking charge at (Patna Pirates), I tried to keep the team together and worked hard on the planning part.

Maye, these factors helped the side win. A successful player cannot always turn into a successful coach, leadership qualities are necessary. Getting work done from the boys, motivating them are very important for players willing to turn coaches.

I am competing, though not in Pro Kabaddi, where the weight limit of 85 kilos is difficult to maintain full season. I am 100 kilos plus usually and play to my strengths. When I was in Pro Kabaddi, I shed 47 kilos; however performing to my best over a long stretch is tough, hence I took a step back. Kabaddi is a body-contact sport, and reducing body weight to such an extent can be harmful. Age is also a factor (37 years).

Q: GFG skipper Sukesh Hegde is leading for the first time in Pro Kabaddi. Reasons for choosing him?

A: Sukesh had been excellent for his team (Telugu titans) during the last four seasons. He is a senior player, and many youngsters in GFG consider him their role model. We will be happy if he can motivate teammates, who are less experienced than him and also himself.

When playing for the Titans, Rahul Chaudhari was the biggest name in the side and would get all the credit. Sukesh put in the hard work, but credit went to somebody else. Leading a new side in Pro Kabaddi is a challenge and an opportunity for him (Sukesh) to earn fame and the trophy. I feel he is ready to take charge.

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