“I want more girls to come and be a part of this wonderful sport.”

Banani Saha__
Banani Saha, coach of Ice Divas, during the match between Storm Queens, vs Ice Divas, at the Netaji Indoor Stadium, Kolkata.

 

Kolkata :Banani started off as a basketball player but her coach stopped coming. She switched to Kabaddi. Glad she did! She represented Indian Railways and played five national tournaments. She has been the coach of the Indian team. She is also the coach of Ice Divas team in the Women’s Kabaddi Challenge. Abhijit Ganguly speaks to this experienced coach.

What is the present scenario of the Women’s Kabaddi in West Bengal?

It is improving now. There has been some problem in our association after 1996/97. Bengal has been home to Kabaddi for a long time. Before Indian Railways came into existence, Maharashtra and West Bengal used to dominate the senior nationals championship. Most players who have been recruited have been from Bengal. There are many Arjuna award recipients from Bengal. Many talented players suffered due to the problems in our association. But things are changing now. We have a new President in our association now and he is trying his best to improve the situation and bring back the glory of Bengal’s Kabaddi.

What is your advice to make the sport better?

There is a need for creating more institutes teaching/training Kabaddi.  More residential camps should be organized. There has to be camps for the coaches as well. It is a sport where women have been at par with men with regard to success. I want more girls to come and be a part of this wonderful sport.

You used to be an outstanding player. Now you are coach. Do you see much difference in the two roles?

I used to concentrate on my performance when I was a player. Now I focus on team’s performance.As a coach, I am a shepherd. I have to look after my flock.

What is your word of advice for the aspiring women Kabaddi players?

Firstly, you have to love Kabaddi. You have to put in lot of hard work. One should set up a goal for oneself. You have to respect the sport.

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