Mustafa Ghouse: 'PK and ISL are very different'

Mustafa Ghouse, CEO of JSW Group that owns Haryana Steelers, at the Pro Kabaddi 2017 conclave, spoke about the team's debut; the similarities between PK and ISL; PK's television coverage among other things.

"Haryana was our number one pick and we were lucky to get there," said Haryana Steelers' CEO Mustafa Ghouse.   -  SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT

Haryana Steelers is one of the four teams set to make its Pro Kabaddi (PK) debut this season, which gets underway on July 28. Mustafa Ghouse, CEO of JSW Group that owns Haryana Steelers, at the Pro Kabaddi 2017 conclave, spoke about the team's debut; the similarities between PK and Indian Super League (ISL); PK's television coverage among other things.
 

Excerpts:

On research done before stepping into Pro Kabaddi:

We did our share of homework. Initially, the excitement was about the way kabaddi had evolved and the way the package had caught everyone’s fancy. This was kabaddi in a new avatar. Our recollection of the sport was in the days when it was played in the mud and in maidans. To see this type of kabaddi was exciting. Popularity among fans and television viewers also excited us from a sport perspective and from the potential of being commercially viable. When the opportunity came to bid for a team, we were quite keen.

On JSW Group being a part of the event:

We were keen on Haryana for many reasons. It is the home state of the Jindal family (owners of JSW Group), who felt it was a nice connect to have. Kabaddi is massively popular over there. It is like the home state for the sport. Haryana was our number one pick and we were lucky to get there.

On similarities, if any, between Pro Kabaddi and Indian Super League:

Both kabaddi and football are growing very fast and we want to be up there with the best in the league. PK and ISL are very different leagues. One is more India-centric. The talent is here and the cream of the crop comes from our country. ISL is a different structure and evolving. Football as a sport is still growing in India and has immediate comparison with international football. It is a task which will always remain (for those involved).

On television coverage as the reason for kabaddi and football's growth in India:

Television is a huge factor. It is not the only reason we were in football. We always wanted to be in a football league of a longer duration and for the opportunity to compete in Asia. When the opportunity arose, we wanted to be there.

On adjusting to Pro Kabaddi’s caravan format, along with  ISL’s home and away matches:

We have to adjust. We have never been before in a caravan format (all 12 kabaddi squads travel to one city for matches). Football's home and away format, we are more aware of. That is how it is done internationally as well. The operations team will need to be aware of nuances of both and adjust.

On competing in Pro Kabaddi with new team formations:

We are at an advantage because of the new (players) in each camp. In other aspects, we don’t have the knowledge of players to the exact extent like those teams already playing. Personal relationship with players is also not there (compared to opponents). (It's) something we need to work on this season. We will use our Bengaluru FC (BFC) experience.

On the challenge of starting with a clean slate in ISL:

With ISL, it is rebuilding time also at BFC, based on the outcome at the draft. We were aware of this when bidding for a team (ISL). It is difficult, tough but has to be done. The head coach (Albert Roca) and assistant coach  remain the same from the earlier set-up.