The Indian women’s kabaddi team has been quite dominant in the sport of kabaddi. The Indian women’s national team has won gold for India in three consecutive Gold Cups and two Asian games. Star India, the official broadcaster of the Pro Kabaddi League (PKL), recently launched The Women’s Kabaddi Challenge. This is an initiative formed by the Amateur Kabaddi Federation of India (AKFI), in association with Mashal Sports.
The three participating teams were Fire Birds, captained by Mamtha Poojari, Ice Divas, captained by Abhilashi Mhatre, and Storm Queens, captained by Tejeswini Bai. Reporter Abhijit Ganguly spoke to Abhilasha Mhatre, Navi Mumbai Municipal Corporation (NMMC) Sports Officer, who was conferred with the prestigious Arjuna Award for her contribution to Kabbadi.
How did you get interested in Kabaddi ?
I am from proper Mumbai. My school was Swami Muktanand High School. I was in seventh grade when I started playing for Chembur Khela Kendra club. Incidentally, their practice ground was our school ground. Many renowned senior players of my club used to practice there. I got inspired seeing them! That was how my journey began. I got to see big tournaments at a very young age, thanks to my club. So far I have played five Internationals, then later the Asian Tournament, and then the World Cup. I have represented the railways for 8 years. Now, I work as a Sports’ Officer in the Navi Mumbai Sports’ Corporation. Recently in 2015, I won the Arjuna Award. This year I am the captain of the Ice Divas team in the Woman’s Kabaddi Challenge. I am very grateful to kabaddi. Whatever I have achieved so far is due to Kabaddi.
How supportive were your parents?
Since my childhood my parents have been very supportive. My dad used to take me to the sports ground. I have had injuries. Doctors told me not to play. My dad and my coach, Suhas Kadam, encouraged me to play. In fact, I gave my best performances after my injuries.
What has been the most memorable moment for you so far?
My best moment in my life was to receive the Arjuna Award. It was a special day in my life! After years of struggle, hard work, and effort, my dream came true!
How do you see the future of Women’s Kabaddi?
I have been playing Kabaddi for the last 15 years. I wish we had Women’s Kabaddi challenge during our times! There is a great future in Kabaddi . There has been an increased interest in the sport. You can earn your fame.
What is your dream?
I want to reach the level where I am not compared to any renowned veteran players. I don’t want to be compared to any player. I want people to remember me as Abhilasha Mhatre.