Until about two years back, Michal Spiczko had never heard of kabaddi, let alone play it. But on Saturday, the defender from Poland completed a remarkable 5,600-km journey from his native city of Bialystok to Mumbai to be part of the Bengaluru Bulls' squad in the second edition of the Pro Kabaddi League, which started on Saturday at Worli's National Sports Club of India.
Bengaluru Bulls' Michal Spiczko during their Pro Kabaddi League opener against Bengal Warriors on Saturday at the Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel Stadium in NSCI, Worli. Pic/Atul Kamble
It was a journey which began two years ago when Ashok Das, General Secretary of England Kabaddi Association, visited Poland and did a kabaddi demonstration. That was Michal's first exposure to the sport, who until then had been an American football player.
Making the switch
"I have been training at the Poland Kabaddi Foundation (PKF) for the past two years. The PKF is the largest association in Poland. It is working towards developing the sport in the country since the last three years. They had their first official demonstration last year in October. People in Poland are keeping up their interest in the sport.
The sport is growing and the federation expect to be a part of every international kabaddi event in future," said 28-year-old Michal, who did not feature in Bengaluru Bulls' 33-25 win over Bengal Warriors on Saturday having arrived in the city only on Friday afternoon.
In fact, yesterday's opener between U Mumba and Jaipur Pink Panthers was the first match of the lucrative league that the defender saw live. "I have never watched the game live. However, I have watched most of the playoffs of my team. It was part of my preparation as I primarily play American football," he said.
The Pole, who works as an IT professional back in his country, believes that his American football background will help him do well in kabaddi. "The similarity in both the games is that you have to watch your opponent and how your teammates are playing. Preparation is needed. In both sports, footwork is crucial. Since I have been playing football for a while, it would help me better my game at kabaddi," he said.
However, he said that not many of his friends play kabaddi. "Most of them indulge in American football. I hope to become an inspiration to my friends and get them to play kabaddi," he signed off.