“Kabaddi and American football are extremely similar. They both require good physique, strength and agility,” Bengaluru Bulls’ Poland import Michal Spiczko said during the second season of Star Sports Pro Kabaddi.
The Pole was brought in by the Pro Kabaddi franchise for Rs. 1.5 lakhs despite him taking up the sport seriously just 5 months prior to the second season of the league. This, as explained by Michal, was partly due to his background in American football.
A key member of Warsaw Eagles American Football Club, the semi-pro American football player switched to the indigenous sport of kabaddi after taking a liking to it when a few Indians back in Poland introduced him to the sport. Since then, the 28-year-old has become a part of the Polish national kabaddi team and inspires others to play the sport which originated ages ago in India professionally.
Stark differences, but remarkable similarities
This brings us to compare the two sports that he so easily transitions between. American football is played on a ground measuring 120x60 yards (110x48.76m) while kabaddi is played on a 13x10m mat. So, are kabaddi and American football really similar?
The answer is a resounding yes. Apart from the ball, American football has an uncanny resemblance to kabaddi. In both the sports, the opponent tries to bring down the man in focus – raider in the case of kabaddi and in American football, the man in possession of the ball. Tackling a player who is hell-bent on overpowering you to reach his goals requires indomitable strength and is displayed in ample fashion in both sports.
Michal said, “I am built like an Ox. I have very strong thigh muscles thanks to American football and these will help me in kabaddi as well.”
However, one can’t rely on raw strength to be successful in the aforementioned sports. Agility and mental strength are key aspects in both sports and that is where Spiczko shares his wisdom.
“The physical preparations for kabaddi and American football are the same. You have to remain focussed and be aware of the opposition as well as playing your game. Also, you need to be able to make sudden turns and be ready to pounce on any opportunity available. Being quick on the feet is a blessing and I have learnt that playing semi-professional American football back home,” the Pole elaborated.
Meandering your way through a sea of defenders to cross the line is the prime motive in both sports. In kabaddi, points are earned if you tag an opposition before returning to your half, while in American football, you have to cross a line at the other end of the pitch with the ball after weaving your way through the burly defenders.
Both require the attacker to be able to think fast, improvise when needed and most importantly, ability to change direction in the blink of an eye. Being faster than your opponent gives you a better chance of tagging him/her and returning to your half or whizzing past him/her while he/she tries to fathom what transpired in that fraction of a second.
Plenty of real-life skills learnt through team sports
Team sports have a different aura to them altogether as you alone are not responsible for your team’s results and it requires a unified effort to put up a good performance, let alone win. In kabaddi, no matter how many points a player scores, he still requires the backing of his team, as demonstrated in the Dabang Delhi-Telugu Titans match.
Kashiling Adake scored a record 24 points, but his team could only manage a 45-45 draw against the Titans, for whom all the players contributed. Similarly, in American football, you can’t expect to run through the 11 players manning their half or neither can you expect to single-handedly stop the opposition 11 to score.
Discipline, how to make sacrifices and how to work with others are just a few of the real-world qualities that one learns by playing team sports and kabaddi and American football teach that in abundance.
“It is tough to accept that I won’t be playing, but when I am not, I make sure I keep the camaraderie in the squad going and ensure that the team is in good spirits. Every team needs to be one if they want to succeed. Everyone wants to play, but even if you are not, you need to encourage your team members as all of you are working towards the same goal.”
- Michal Spiczko on his role when not playing.
Despite the obvious differences between kabaddi and American football, the raw attributes required for players remains the same. As exemplified by Michal, even if you play a different sport, you can make the switch to the other seamlessly due to the similarities between the two.Published 14 Sep 2015, 17:13 IST