Fazel Atrachali: You don't earn money to look at it, but spend

Atrachali, first to log 100 tackle points in the league, says he wants to buy a new house and a car with his earnings

Fazel Atrachali and Abozar Mighani - SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT

Gujarat Fortunegiants’ (GFG) left corner Fazel Atrachali is more popular among the four Iranians taking part in the ongoing Pro Kabaddi League (PKL). The 25-year-old tall and lithe defender was picked by GFG as a priority player with a price tag of Rs. 55 lakh; 10 % more than his defender-colleague fellow Iranian Abozar Mohajermighani (Mighani), who became the highest bought overseas player at Rs. 50 lakh. Dabang Delhi KC’s Meyraj Sheykh and Abolfazel Maghsodlo are the other two Iranians in the league.

Atrachali and Mighani are GFG’s prized possessions; they rarely give a chance for raiders to escape once they are in their grip. Atrachali is in the news as he became the first PKL player to reach the magic mark of 100 tackle points in the tied match against Haryana Steelers in Hyderabad.

Atrachali, who is also the only player to feature in two league winning teams (for U Mumba and Patna Pirates) said, “Now everything is going good for me. The second season marked my debut. Back then, I just wanted to play one match. I played four for U Mumba. I played 12 in the next season and last year, the stint with Patna Pirates also turned out to be impressive. I am happy that I am the first defender to score 100 tackle points, because it has not come easily. In the first season, the coaches did not believe in my abilities. They thought I was an ordinary player, but I requested for a chance to prove them wrong.”

Talking of skills and match preparations, he said, “I start my mental preparation four to five hours before a match; so when the match starts, my mind is ready. I think in a particular way; like if a raider comes with the idea of crossing the bonus point line, I will respond in a particular way, and if a raider comes for a touch, I react in another way. Let a raider do anything, I am ready for it. I like the body-lift which immobilises the raider.’’

What’s been the difference in season 5. Atrachali says: “In the first three seasons, I played with Rakesh Kumar, Anup Kumar, Shabeer Bappu, Dharmaraj Cheralathan and Rajesh Mondal, who were all experienced players. This season is new for me because I am playing with juniors. I am the vice-captain and I need to plan and strategise. I don’t have any problem communicating with the players. There are so many familiar words that are almost the same in Iranian and Hindi.”

Talking of money-factor in the PKL, Atrachal straightaway made a comparison. “I got Rs. 4 lakh in my first season; but he (Abozar) got Rs. 50 lakh. Money is good; it’s better than what we get for the Asian Games, which is equivalent to Rs. 15 or Rs. 20 lakh. You don’t earn money to look at it, and so I would like to spend it on a new house, new car and on my family. I can buy a new house and a new car in Gorgan, not in Tehran.’’

But Atrachali also pointed out another interesting aspect. “Seven years ago (in 2010), we were in Guangzhou for the Asian Games and I thought that I would be close to Indian players. When I saw Rakesh Kumar and Anup Kumar, I had told them I want to take photographs with them . But now I have played with them in their own team. I have been here for three years and I like the last line of the national anthem — jaya he, jaya he, jaya he.’’

While Atrachali has gained reputation as a tactful defender, Abozar has made a big impact in his debut season. When asked if the17 tackle points — he earned for Iran at the Kabaddi World Cup last year — helped him get the contract, the 28-year-old Abozar said: “May be. But I will get a lot of experience in this league, Fazel has helped me a lot. He told me PKL is very different with contrasting teams and players. I also like the body lift, I have the power. I like to challenge the raiders. And I need the money. I was jobless and I got married six months ago.”