Guwahati: One of India’s illustrious kabaddi coaches, J. Udayakumar who is currently coaching the Tamil Thalaivas team at the Pro Kabaddi League, said that there are representatives from each PKL team to spot talent here.
“Half of the players, who are playing kabaddi at the Khelo India Youth Games, have the aim of playing in the Pro Kabaddi League. There are representatives from all Pro Kabaddi League teams, who have come here to spot talent. They are keenly watching the performance of the players at the Khelo India Youth Games. Some players, especially in the U-21 category, will be selected for various Pro Kabaddi League team selection trials. I am also watching the players to spot talent for the Tamil Thalaivas,” said the Kerala kabaddi coach.
Udayakumar has been in the kabaddi circuit for a long time. He was a player first, representing Kerala, Delhi and Rajasthan in state competitions before turning a full-time coach. He has seen the sport move from mud grounds in villages to the glamourous indoor stadiums at the Pro Kabaddi League and other international competitions.
“Most players, who play kabaddi in India, are from an average or below average family background as far as finances are concerned. Kabaddi was a rural game. The game was played in villages on mud grounds as no equipment was required for the sport. People of all ages used to play the sport during festival seasons. But now, kabaddi is a glamour sport. The game has moved from mud to turf and from outdoors to indoors. The kabaddi sport has changed a lot over the years,” said Udayakumar.
With a glint in his eye, Udayakumar explained how the Pro Kabaddi League has changed the lifestyle of kabaddi players all over the country. “Kabaddi has a lot of spectators now. The Pro Kabaddi League is the second most-watched league after the Indian Premier League. The players are well paid through the Pro Kabaddi League. Earlier, kabaddi players used to look for government jobs, but now the players focus on getting into a PKL team. The players are able to ensure that their families are well settled through the money they receive in the league. Now, the players have a different lifestyle,” said a smiling Udayakumar.