Here's what makes Indian Kabaddi Captain Ajay Thakur a favourite of the Pro Kabaddi League

A chat with Ajay Thakur, the skipper of Tamil Thalaivas, and one of the favourites of the Pro Kabaddi League

Nandita Ravi Published :  09th November 2018 06:00 AM   |   Published :   |  09th November 2018 06:00 AM
Kabaddi Captain Ajay Thakur

Ajay Thakur

Here’s a fun fact about the Indian Kabaddi team captain Ajay Thakur. He is also known as ‘Flying Thakur’ for having mastered the frog jump — a unique move that sees him jump in the air with his legs apart, and almost fly away from the defenders’ circle, taking them by surprise. The 33-year-old Indian raider, who is also the captain of the Tamil Thalaivas team in the ongoing Pro Kabaddi League (PKL), became a household name in the Kabaddi World Cup 2016, after scoring a Super 10 in the final against Iran, securing a win for the country.

His journey with Kabaddi, Thakur says, started off when he was a 16-year-old. “I must have been in about Class 10 when I decided that I was going to play Kabaddi professionally,” begins the raider, born in Dabhota, near Himachal Pradesh. His father, who was a state-level wrestler, was in full support of his decision. “There are only a few Kabaddi players or even athletes from Dabhota. So, when I told my father of my decision to play Kabaddi, he was overjoyed. He told me that he wanted to see me as an international player — one who brought name and fame to the country,” he adds. Although he has been playing the sport for over 16 years now, it was not all smooth sailing. “There was a lot of struggle. There were no grounds for us to practice on, no proper training, awareness of the sport was low,” he explains.

Strategising with the team 

However things are different now, he feels, especially after Pro Kabaddi League was launched in 2014. “There are a lot of fans for the game and players are being recognised. The prize money (`8 crore for the winners last year) is good, which translates to better training and coaches for aspiring players. We also get the best international players to play with us, and there is so much we get to learn from them,” he asserts. 
After playing for the Bengaluru Bulls in the first two seasons of PKL, and the Puneri Paltan franchise for seasons 3 and 4, he moved to the Tamil Thalaivas in last season. “It has been a great run with the Thalaivas so far. Yes, we have lost a couple of matches but as captain, with my coach, we are motivating the team and training hard too. There is always hope that we will win the next one,” he affirms, adding that as a team, they train for two hours every morning, and play matches in the evenings to keep fit. 

Training with the Thalaivas

Having lost out on the top spot at the Asian Games, we ask him what the future of the sport is. “The focus is to get better and win. As far as the future of the sport is concerned, I can only see a bright future ahead,” he signs off.

Watch Pro Kabaddi League Season 6, live on Star Sports, 7.30 pm onwards.