Coach Ram Mehar Singh of Patna Pirates has been quite a busy man. After taking the Pirates to their third VIVO Pro Kabaddi crown, he is now mentoring national champions Services in their title defence at the Senior National Championships being held at the Gachibowli Indoor Stadium in Hyderabad. Services will no doubt benefit from his immense playing and coaching experience in the sport but Singh himself has another agenda on his mind as well.

“Tournaments like the senior nationals, national departmental championship and junior nationals, serve as the hunting ground for talents,” Singh said while speaking to The New Indian Express.

Coming off a successful VIVO Pro Kabaddi stint with the dominant Patna Pirates, Singh will now look to further strength the team with new talent. He is well aware of the quality of youngsters participating in national tournaments and will have his eyes peeled for some future kabaddi stars. The Pirates have already been the proving ground for a number of young kabaddi players like Dubki King Pardeep Narwal and more recently corner defender Jaideep. The fearless attitude of these young players makes them ideal for a league like VIVO Pro Kabaddi.

While national tournaments are one avenue, Singh also mentioned the open selection trials held last season as a way for young kabaddi players to showcase their talent.

“Boys aged from 18 to 22 are called to various centres for appearing in open selection trials. It makes things easier for youngsters living in the vicinity of the centre to appear for the trials. Anyone within the specified age group can come. The aim is to give an opportunity to every kid,” said Mehar Singh. There were a total of almost 20,000 hopefuls who appeared for trials last year with each centre hosted around 3,000 players. Singh went on to explain the format of the process and was all praises for it.   

“Last year, out of the thousands who flocked for the trials, 700 were selected after the first round of filtration. Then 350 were chosen. Finally, about 100 were called for the final camp in Mumbai. Each of the 12 teams had two to three players from the chosen 100. The clarity in the selections is just tremendous in Kabaddi,” he said.

Another coach who will be on the lookout for new talent to add to his VIVO Pro Kabaddi team will be Jaipur Pink Panthers’ Balwan Singh. Although his team did not have luck going their way in Season 5, the talented youngsters from their squad stepped up the challenges thrown at them on a number of occasions and rescued the team. The world cup winning coach, though, felt that real talent will only be unearthed in the knock out stages of the tournament when the pressure is on.

“The best players emerge in the knockout stages because that is when different situations surface. Then you get to see players perform according to them,” he said.