Journey to the east

Players of the Korean women's team undergoing training at the Sports Authority of India Stadium in Visakhapatnam.-K.R. DEEPAK

Former India coach Prasada Rao takes up the task of training the Korean women’s kabaddi team for the 2014 Asian Games in Incheon. By J. R. Shridharan.

Coaches are meant to impart skills, share their experiences and spread knowledge. The call of duty could take them beyond their shores, maybe even to a different continent. E. Prasada Rao, the technical director of the Asian Kabaddi Federation, has been instrumental in promoting the sport in many countries. The 59-year-old Dronacharya Award winner has now taken up the task of coaching the South Korean women’s kabaddi team for the 2014 Asian Games, scheduled to be held in its backyard, Incheon.

The 11-member South Korean team, along with the Secretary General of the Korean Kabaddi Federation, Yoon Yeong, underwent training in Visakhapatnam. The team, which had five players who figured in the 2010 Guangzhou Asian Games, also played some exhibition matches in Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu.

The Korean men’s team underwent training at the SAI Centre in Gandhinagar, Gujarat.

“The camps were held with the technical support of the Sports Authority of India (SAI). The players, soon after the training, will take part in the Asian Indoor Games in Incheon in June where kabaddi is one of the events,” said Prasada Rao, who was instrumental in the formation of the Korean Kabaddi Federation in 2002. “When South Korea hosted the 2002 Asian Games in Pusan, it did not take part in kabaddi. However, gradually it realised that it had the potential to win a medal and began learning kabaddi in a committed manner. I have been working with this team for the past six years and I have been to South Korea many times on coaching assignments,” said the former India coach.

Rao said that most of the Korean players were less than 20 years of age. “They possess natural flair, agility and speed. They are quick learners and are blessed with good memory power and reflexes. That is the reason they do well in games like table tennis, badminton and archery,” he added.

According to Rao, Korea’s determination bore fruit as its women’s team won the bronze medal in the Asian Beach Kabaddi Championship in Bali in 2010. “As per the Olympic Council of Asia guidelines, three Asian events are to be held — Asian Games, Asian Beach Games and Asian Indoor Games — in which kabaddi would be one of the disciplines. This training-cum-competition exposure trip is aimed at winning medals in these three prestigious events, said Rao.

Rao is of the view that though they (Koreans) look confident in raiding, they lack in group tactics. “Individually they are fine, but they need to improve various combinations in catching. Defence is their Achilles Heel and we are working towards fine-tuning the grey areas,” he added.