While the cricket season is over (for the moment), ‘kabaddi’ is more than making up for its absence. With a vibrant gang that is represented by players from various states, the sport has us all glued to the television. As part of a promotion for the series, the City had a chance to see the Star Sports Pro-Kabaddi team ‘U Mumba’s Shabeer Bapu Sharfudheen and Jeeva Kumar recently. The duo shared their aspirations for the team and the sport.
Shabeer, a 29-year-old raider for the team, is a clerk at the State Bank of Mysore and hails from Palakkad, Kerala. He started playing when he was in school. He says, “Kabaddi is not that popular where I come from, but we had a small team with whom we played as often as we could. My dad has been supportive throughout and started training me when I was very young.” But for the popular defender Jeeva, from Kanyakumari, it was his brother who inspired him to take up the sport. He recalls, “It was my brother who got me interested in this. He used to ask me to hold his ankle and not let go. I soon got better at it.”
So far, the team has played about 29 matches and won 20. With their rigid structures and firm postures, the two have been invaluable assets for the team. The bank employees split their time between work and practice, showing their true dedication to the team and the sport. Shabeer used to play at departmental and national-level tournaments. Jeeva, on the other hand, is one of the senior players who chalks out the team’s strategy.
When asked about how they think the league is different, they say, “Usually in state tournaments, out of all the matches we play, about two to four will be difficult. But in the league, one has to be alert from the very beginning and make sure that they stay on point throughout.”
The excitement level for the matches has been great this season, and the ‘U Mumba’ team is very close to winning the final trophy.
To this, Shabeer adds, “Right now we don’t know if we will win the cup, but it will be incredible if we do. Last year, we came remarkably close and this year we want to make up for it.”
As of now, the players are happy that they have been given a platform for a sport like kabaddi, and make it well-known among the people. They are also happy with their stardom and look forward to the end of a great season.