When VIVO Pro Kabaddi was launched in 2014, no one could have imagined in their wildest dreams that within three years it would become one of the most-followed leagues nationwide. And with two titles won in consecutive seasons, Patna Pirates have emerged to be the most successful franchise in VIVO Pro Kabaddi history. Prokabaddi.com recently got in touch with team owner Rajesh V. Shah to find out how his tryst with kabaddi started and how his experience of owning a team had been so far. Here are some excerpts.
What attracted you to the sport of kabaddi?
Perhaps you can call it destiny! Just one day before the first player auctions, based on a call from a friend, I agreed to pick up the Patna franchise of a new kabaddi league called Pro Kabaddi. For me, it was a leap into the unknown. The attraction was the opportunity to promote a sport, and the thrill of being part of something like that right from inception.
As double defending champions, is there pressure on the team to complete a hat-trick of titles this season?
It would be fantastic to complete a hat-trick! But no match is won under pressure. The players, coaching staff and team management will have to gel into a cohesive, fighting unit with an unwavering focus on each and every game. If it happens match after match, there is no reason why we cannot come out winners.
How valuable do you think Pardeep Narwal is, since he has been one of your side's most consistent performers?
India has many excellent players. Every team has one or more marquee players and for us it is Pardeep. He is a combination of skill, power and agility. But no team can win or lose because of just one player. It is a joint effort of all the players, coaching staff and team management.
What would you say about your team's performance so far in VIVO Pro Kabaddi Season 5?
We did have a few unexpected disappointments. The boys have learnt that they cannot lose concentration even for a second. They have to think on their feet and keep adapting to the situation. I am sure we have learnt much from our defeats. It is the meticulous and painstaking preparedness for an exhaustive range of outcomes as they might occur in a highly charged, fast-paced game that is the crucial factor. We go there and give our best in every match, they have done so most of the time.
What are your expectations from the team this season?
I expect each one to give their best and have no regrets. It is a game and we cannot predict the outcome but we must not leave any stone unturned. And most importantly, they must enjoy it.
Do you have any message for the passionate Patna Pirates fans?
Our fans have been our greatest support. They support us across various platforms and follow each of our games. The players love them and are motivated by their support. I am humbled by their unwavering support and would like to thank them for standing by us and for all the encouragement, even when we lost our matches.