Kabaddi similar to wrestling, says Geeta Phogat

The Indian wrestling star played kabaddi as a child “as a useful diversion from training on the mat.”

Geeta Phogat (left) and Sukesh Hegde at the jersey launch of Gujarat Fortune Giants.   -  Special Arrangement

Geeta Phogat finds some similarities between the sport of kabaddi and her own field of expertise, wrestling. “Both involve a lot of body contact and place a lot of value in power,” she said after having watched a training session and meeting with players and support staff of Gujarat Fortune Giants (GFG), the new franchise set to feature in the Pro Kabaddi League.

“Wrestling and kabaddi demand quick decision-making from the players in action. I have played kabaddi with brothers and cousins as a child, we looked at kabaddi as a useful diversion from training on the mat,” she told mediapersons at Sports Authority of India complex, Gandhinagar.

Villagers, she pointed out, understand both sports. “In my home state, Haryana, girls were not allowed near akhadas (wrestling training centre) at one time. Now girls train and compete. Pro Kabaddi is followed by more people in rural areas since they can relate to the action and appreciate the athleticism and courage.”

Gujarat Fortune Giants’ coach Manpreet Singh, a former star with Patna Pirates, agreed with Geeta. “Wrestlers do rope-climbing to build upper body strength, so do we. Kabaddi moves in defence like pushing a raider out of the zone involve lower body power, common in wrestlers.”

Manpreet will be assisted by Neer Gulia, while Sukesh Hegde will captain the side. Pranav Adani, the Managing Director of the franchise, said it was hoping to reap long-term rewards out of its association in the league. Adani Wilmar Limited’s ownership of the franchise is for 17 years. “We take long-term view, in business or sport. Through our entry into Pro Kabaddi, we wish to make the sport popular across the state, so that in the coming seasons, players from Gujarat emerge. Adani Wilmar invested in getting top talent in players and coaches. We expect GFG to perform so that interest is generated among the public. From numbers, quality will emerge.”

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