Kabaddi guru inspires Thai teams

A Malaysian player (center) tries to tag members of the Thai team during their first-round kabaddi match. Liu Jin / AFP

Thailand coach Ramesh Bhendigiri has transformed the sport of kabaddi in that country in the space of just seven months.

Thailand’s aggressive play has landed them three wins out of three and a place in the semifinals of the inaugural women’s competition at the Nansha Gymnasium on Thursday.

Coached by Bhendigiri, the team, which is mostly made up of schoolgirls aged 14-17, beat main rival Iran 41-38 in a tense match on Tuesday.

The Asian Kabaddi Federation appointed Bhendigiri, whose kabaddi-teaching career spans 15 years, to teach the Thai team earlier this year. With the help of coach Somprach Phonchoo, who translates for him, he teaches the girls to study their opponents and plan special techniques to combat their raids and play.

“I am a doctor of kabaddi,” said Bhendigiri, who has also trained members of gold-medal favorite India. “This is my subject: Kabaddi skills. Our team has good fitness and this is one of our biggest advantages. I have shown them CDs of the Indian team playing. For three to four months we watched how Iran played and its moves.”

(China Daily 11/25/2010)