Pro Kabaddi League 2: The American football touch in South Asian sport
Mumbai: Not many, even in kabaddi circles, would have heard of Michal Spiczko, a Pole who plays American (gridiron) football and is a member of the Bengaluru Bulls team taking part in the Pro Sports Kabaddi League that commenced at the NSCI Stadium here.
Though he was not fielded on Saturday by the Bulls in their season two opener against Bengal Warriors, Michal attracted a lot of attention from the media after the game which Bengaluru won.
What made a Polish national take up to this indigenous sport of South Asia, he was asked.
"First of all, curiosity. I met some Indian guys in Poland and they introduced me to this sport. They said look at it, this can be popular," said Michal last night after his franchise outfit's come from behind win.
"I got to know the (Pro Kabaddi) league from the same persons who introduced me to the sport," he added.
Kabaddi is not that well known even in parts of Asia outside the sub-continent, though there are players in the league hailing from Iran, whose men's team finished with the silver medal behind gold medallists India in the Incheon Asian Games last year.
But Michal surprised everyone by saying kabaddi is becoming popular in Europe.
"I strongly feel kabaddi can be a global sport. I want to make it very famous and popular in Poland. I am in the Polish kabaddi team. Ten guys (in Poland) play kabaddi professionally, former MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) fighters, wrestlers, football players. A lot of them have switched from one sport to kabaddi. I myself have been playing kabaddi for one year," said the 28-year-old from Warsaw.
Michal did not see any problem in combining American football along with kabaddi.
"(American football is) just done (for the season). We lost in the semifinals. I don't need to choose between the two. The physical preparations are similar. It's all about foot speed, quick and fast," said the Pole.
"I love this sport. I am sure a lot of European countries will start to play kabaddi. One week ago we, the Polish national team, won a tournament in England, a tournament involving 18 teams.
"Denmark has a team and kabaddi is becoming more and more popular in Europe," he added.