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  1. Women’s Kabaddi Challenge: Mamta Poojari, Tejeswani Bai on their love of this sport

Women’s Kabaddi Challenge: Mamta Poojari, Tejeswani Bai on their love of this sport

We speak with captains of the finalist teams of the first-ever women’s kabaddi league, as they take on each other today evening.

By: | Published: July 31, 2016 6:01 AM

 

Thirty-year-old Mamtha Poojari and 29-year-old skipper of Storm Queens speak to Nitin Sreedhar (Twitter) Thirty-year-old Mamtha Poojari and 29-year-old skipper of Storm Queens speak to Nitin Sreedhar (Twitter)

 

MAMTHA POOJARI, FIRE BIRDS

Thirty-year-old Mamtha Poojari first represented India at the 2006 South Asian Games held in Colombo, Sri Lanka. Since then, she has participated in many major international tournaments, including Asian Games, Women’s Kabaddi World Cup, Asian Beach Games and Asian Kabaddi Championships. In 2014, she won the Arjuna Award. Poojari says she loved sports as a child, but it was only in college that she started taking kabaddi seriously. “I started playing kabaddi regularly while pursuing BA at Shree Gokarnanatheshwara College of Education, Mangaluru. The coaches there were very helpful and convinced my parents that I actually had a future in it,” says Poojari, who hails from Udupi district, Karnataka.

Edited excerpts from an interview:

You turned professional in 2006, so what’s your most memorable ‘kabaddi’ moment so far?

The gold medal at the 2010 Asian Games is the most memorable win for me.

What are your thoughts on Women’s Kabaddi Challenge?

I have been playing kabaddi for the past

10-11 years, but before Women’s Kabaddi Challenge, hardly anybody knew me. Now, everybody does. Also, even though kabaddi is India’s sport and we are the best at it, that doesn’t mean we should take things easy. Other countries like Iran, Korea, Thailand, etc, are working hard. We need to toil harder.

Who are your favourite sportpersons?

I don’t like cricket because it doesn’t leave any space for kabaddi in the country, but one sportsperson I have always admired is Sachin Tendulkar… he remained so composed. I also like (athlete) Anju Bobby George and (kabaddi player) Anup Kumar. Defenders can’t read Kumar’s game… he is very calm on the mat.

What has been the biggest moment of your career?

My first appearance for India in 2006 because it changed the way people in my village looked at kabaddi. Those who frowned upon me for wearing shorts and returning late from practice were suddenly so proud of me.

What’s your favourite kabaddi move?

The hand touch and bonus. One move I want to add is the kick. Jang Kun Lee (the Korean player in Bengal Warriors) executes the move quite well.

TEJESWINI BAI, STORM QUEENS

The 29-year-old skipper of Storm Queens has plenty of experience as a leader, having captained the Indian national side to a gold at the

2014 Asian Games in Incheon, South Korea, and the 2016 South Asian Games in Shillong and Guwahati. Bai’s love for kabaddi started when she was 13 years old, she says. In 2002, at the age of 15 years, she joined

the Vijaynagar Kabaddi Club in

Bengaluru. The next year she represented Karnataka at the 2003 senior nationals. A true veteran of the

sport, Bai has represented India

at two Asian Games, three Asian Championships and three South Asian Games, winning the Arjuna Award in 2011. Edited excerpts from an interview:

When did you turn professional and what’s your most memorable ‘kabaddi’ moment so far?

I turned professional in 2005 at the Asian Women Championship in Hyderabad, my first appearance for India. My most memorable moment was when I started playing for the Indian Railways team at the national level in 2004.

What are your thoughts on Women’s Kabaddi Challenge?

Earlier, there wasn’t much recognition. Thanks to Women’s Kabaddi Challenge (WKC), people are watching us on TV, so now they know and recognise us. We are even asked for autographs! If WKC can achieve the heights of the men’s league, we will see more women players.

Who are your favourite sportpersons?

(Kabaddi player) Anup Kumar. What sets him apart is the way he conducts himself on the mat… he is very

calm and patient. I also admire boxer Mary Kom.

What has been the biggest moment of your career?

The Arjuna Award in 2011… nothing beats that.

What’s your favourite kabaddi move?

I love collecting bonus points and that’s my most effective attacking option on the mat.

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