Hairstyle to match the men folk, lean and athletic looks to give the rivals a run for their money and a determination to match their male counterparts.
As women’s kabaddi makes its debut at the Asian Games in Guangzhou (China) from November 12-27, the 15 probables training at the Sports Authority of India’s (SAI) sub-centre here are steeling themselves up to match the might of the Chinese and the Koreans in a sport traditionally dominated by India.
They know that a loss in the quadrennial games will not go down well back home, given the unblemished record the male counterparts hold. So, to get into the true competitive spirit, most of them have cut their hair short — to prevent rivals from gaining advantage —and are slowly getting used to the men’s gear.
“It (the hairstyle) doesn’t look nice, especially, when you go back home or attend family functions. But, this is what we have to do,” said young Veerpal Kaur of Punjab, whose family was initially opposed to getting the hair pruned.
“But I explained that since I am playing for the country, and winning a medal at the Games is my top priority, I would not allow the hair issue to come in the way,” she added.
Though a few girls still sport long hair, they will have to do away with the long tresses before leaving for Guangzhou on November 15, as they await final selections. “It all depends on the final selection. If I am included, I will cut them short; if not I’ll keep them,” said another probable.
For a majority of the girls, a good performance at the Games would mean instant gratification. Despite a hat-trick of Asian kabaddi championship titles --- where they have beaten the best --- they are still struggling to get decent jobs. “Job opportunities are hard to come by despite our repeated success at the international level. But a gold in China will draw everyone’s attention to women’s kabaddi,” said coach Sunil Dabas. “This is the best opportunity for the girls to give their careers a boost,” she added.
“Most of the teams in Guangzhou would be the same against whom we have been playing for the last few years. But, Iran, Japan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh will pose a tough challenge,” added Dabas
“This sport requires height, speed, stamina and power. While the Iranians are tall, the Japanese are swift. Still, our girls can overpower them.”