Exclusive: Interview with Puneri Paltan Coach BC Ramesh
The head coach of the Pune-based Pro Kabaddi League (PKL) franchise Puneri Paltan BC Ramesh has been at the forefront to achieve the best in favour of the Pune-based outfit which was led by Deepak Niwas Hooda, in the recently concluded fifth edition of the PKL won by Patna Pirates.
Since the inception of the professional kabaddi league, Paltan has had shown a remarkable improvement season after another on the court, as the league claimed it is the most-watched league after cricket in India.
Across all five editions of the Twenty20 cricket inspired Kabaddi league, Paltan has so far collected 1,412 raid points which further saw them inflicting 102 all-outs and went on to concede 100 all-outs respectively.
Ramesh is Arjuna Award winner and has led India’s national kabaddi team. He was also a part of the gold-medal winning side in Bangkok when India participated in the Asia Games in 2002.
Pertinently, Paltan made it to the Qualifiers round for the third time consecutively, as Ramesh was delighted with the team’s overall performance.
As Paltan was eliminated by indomitable Patna Pirates in the eliminator third by 42-32 in the PKL 2017 season, Ramesh remarked they would talk a lot of satisfaction, to make a transition in the sixth edition.
Going from strength to strength, Paltan collected 825 tackle points while having the average of 9.82 in it.
Ramesh remarked the strength relies upon the consistent performance while adding they would like to raise the bar in the sixth edition of PKL.
Paltan registered 2,587 points since 2014; as they went on to concede 2,608 points in overall 84 matches.
When it comes to the raid points, Paltan has entertained many, as they have so far registered 119 raid points.
In 2017 edition, Paltan collected 80 points in 22 matches in the league stage and was listed second in the points table.
With coach looking out for the consistency from his players and is hopeful to see his wards performing better in the next edition, Ramesh is further hopeful of making a significant difference after players have had given their best after facing the daunting challenge upfront in the twelve-team tournament.
Ramesh spoke to Sportzwiki about the success, performances and a thought process of the management and the team for the next PKL edition.
Here’re the excerpts of the freewheeling interview with Puneri Paltan’s head coach BC Ramesh:
SW: What’s the reason behind the success of Puneri Paltan?
R: The hard work and dedication of players make a successful team. Our camp was set up in Pune two months prior to the league, and right from the beginning all our players were completely focused.
They religiously followed their fitness regime, spent hours in the gym to build stamina for a 3-month long season and strictly followed the diet. None of our players were ever late to the practise sessions.
Also, the players shared a great bond amongst themselves. They would all eat together, train together, sleep together and this bond and teamwork would reflect on the mat during matches.
SW: How would you rate your team’s performance in PKL 2017?
R: Puneri Paltan as a team performed very well in season 5. Third time in a row the team qualified for the playoffs which speak a lot about the potential and performance of the team.
Till last season Puneri Paltan had never won a match against U Mumba, and this year we managed to defeat them in all three Maharashtra Derby matches.
Captain Deepak Hooda crossed 400 raid point mark. Puneri Paltan is listed in the top spot when it comes to a maximum number of do-or-die raid points (119), tackle points (271) and highest average tackle points of 11.29 in season five.
The team was consistent with their performance and capitalized well on the winning momentum. Although it was a three-month long season, we managed to pull it off with minimal injuries.
SW: What are your thoughts on the success of PKL?
R: Thanks to Pro Kabaddi League, Kabaddi is a game which is now recognized by every household in India. Although PKL season one and season two had limited viewership, the way season three picked up was commendable.
Post-PKL season four, Kabaddi became the second most watched sport in the country after cricket, which was a huge thing. And season five saw the league expanding with four new teams in action and a longer duration of the league.
Pro Kabaddi League has packaged in a way that it appeals to the audience. The format is short and sweet, every match lasts for only 40 minutes, so the attention span of viewers is high.
SW: Since, PKL is the second most-watched franchise tournament in India, can it take on IPL in say five or 10 years?
R: Absolutely! Kabaddi is an interesting home-grown sport with a lot of potential to grow in India. The viewership stats speak for themselves. TRP of PKL has increased tremendously from season one to season five, to the extent that PKL season five finale was the highest rated non-cricket event on TV.
SW: How has PKL changed, if at all, the life of an average Kabaddi player?
R: PKL has brought about a drastic change in Kabaddi players’ life. It has given a platform to all the young and gifted Kabaddi players to showcase their talent.
It has given financial stability to players who come from a humble background. More than anything else, Pro Kabaddi league has given the players much deserved respect and recognition.
SW: What is the future plan for Puneri Paltan to go ahead and win the PKL next year?
R: Ahead of season six we would be looking to tighten our right and left covers. As far as raiders are concerned we will need our raiders to be quick on their feet and score bonus points for us.
It is difficult to talk about the squad for PKL season 6, as season 5 got over recently and the auction for next season is quite far.
SW: As a coach, which team was the most difficult to prepare your players against? What I mean is the most intimidating team you personally find in this year’s tournament!
We took on our opponents fearlessly, so there was no team in particular whom we found intimidating. We never underestimated any team and worked hard equally before every match. Two teams that were challenging to play against were Gujarat Fortunegiants and Patna Pirates.
Gujarat had a very strong defence and Patna’s raiders Pardeep Narwal and Monu Goyat did amazingly well.
SW: How would you rate your team on a scale of 1-10 in terms of tactics? Also, what are your strengths and weakness?
R: On the scale of 1-10, I would give the team seven for their performance in season five. Our team qualified for the playoffs 3rd time in a row. They played consistently and capitalized well on the winning momentum.
The diverse pool of talented players was our biggest strength. We had raiders like Deepak Hooda, Rajesh Mondal, and Monu who helped us score points.
At the same time, our defence was strong with Dharmaraj, Ziaur, and Girish. Sandeep was a brilliant all-rounder who contributed to offence and defence. Young players like Monu and Rinku too played a crucial role in winning matches, as Akshay Jadhav also gave his best performance whenever opportunity was given to him.
One area where I feel we need to work on is, we have to stop giving away points during the last crucial 5-10 minutes of the match as we have had to face quite a few close encounters in season 5 because of this.
We will have to tighten our covers before the next season.
Tahir Ibn Manzoor
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