"I am focusing more on the coordination of the team" - Tamil Thalaivas coach Ashan Kumar looks ahead to Pro Kabaddi 2023 [Exclusive]

Ashan Kumar (L) is helming the Tamil Thalaivas for a second straight year, this time from the start of the season (Picture Credits: X/Tamil Thalaivas).
Ashan Kumar (L) is helming the Tamil Thalaivas for a second straight year, this time from the start of the season (Picture Credits: X/Tamil Thalaivas).

Here's a fact - Ashan Kumar is a well-renowned coach of incredible repute with feathers overflowing on a cap of illustrious achievements. That's stating the obvious to anyone who has followed kabaddi with passion and has kept a close track of it.

It came as no surprise then that when the head coach of the Indian men's team was thrown a fresh challenge - to flip the fortunes of a Tamil Thalaivas outfit that was staring down the barrel in Pro Kabaddi 2022 - he aced it with aplomb.

Lifting the spirits of a side that recorded a solitary win in six attempts in the first leg of the tournament, the Thalaivas proceeded to make the eliminators - a feat they had never achieved until then.

Unsurprisingly, Ashan is back at the helm of affairs from the beginning of Pro Kabaddi 2023 this time. His vision is as clear and profound as his words are and his composed approach to the job reflects in the happy environment and results that the Thalaivas delivered under his tutelage last year.

The team looks a more determined lot this time and the coach is a confident man too as he sat down for a quick tête-à-tête with Sportskeeda ahead of Pro Kabaddi 2023.

It had to start with a potential secret behind the Thalaivas magnificent turnaround that Ashan orchestrated in 2022.

"There are many things in this, but I would like to emphasize one thing. I would like to give credit to the team that has discipline, the team that is united, and the team that plays for its institute, its country, its organization, its management, unites and plays, will definitely give a good performance," says Ashan.
"And I especially emphasized that you should play the game with an open mind. Winning or losing is a part of the game. Don't worry about losing. Focus on your individual performance and the performance of the team. You will definitely succeed."

"We should pay special attention to the NYP" - Ashan Kumar opens up on youth ahead of Pro Kabaddi 2023

The New Young Players program that the Pro Kabaddi has mandated for teams has seen the rise of young talent on the big stage. The Tamil Thalaivas benefited themselves from the same last year as first-timer Narender raided his way to a whopping 243 points.

Ashan didn't take any specific names when asked about whom to keep an eye out for in Pro Kabaddi 2023 with the Thalaivas boasting a lot of young talent. But he did drive home the importance of the NYP program - important words at that from the head coach of the Indian team.

"We should pay special attention to the NYP. If you want to go to a high level in any game, then we should identify talent, we should take new players. And if the experienced players also have the ability to spot new players, only then they will be able to practice well. So this time we have a lot of new players and I can definitely say that the way Narender worked, the same way this time we have a couple of players who, if they get the opportunity, will definitely do as well as Narender," Ashan explained.

In an exclusive chat with Sportskeeda, Thalaivas' skipper Sagar Rathee spoke about Ashan prioritizing the players' fitness ahead of the new season.

The coach himself touched upon another key aspect that has been at the core of their pre-season training camp to extract the best out of his raiders, which includes Narender, Ajinkya Pawar, and K Selvamani.

"This time I am focusing more on the coordination of the team, I am focusing more on the situation. How much time is left, how many players of the opponent team are left, how many points do we have, how many points do the opponents have, keeping all the situations in mind, special training is being given to each and every player and team," says Ashan.

For a man who stressed giving players 'endless support and love' when he last spoke to this publication in 2022, it's no surprise that his focus remains on certain subtle aspects that sow the seeds for success.

"We will definitely put in a very good performance" - Coach Ashan confident of Thalaivas' chances in Pro Kabaddi 2023

Ashan is quietly confident of the Thalaivas putting in a good performance in Pro Kabaddi 2023, having overseen their progression into the semifinals for the first time last year.

"We will definitely put in a very good performance. Every player and coach hopes that our efforts bear fruit, and whatever we have practiced comes good. We will look to live up to our expectations and achieve our aim," says Ashan.

While Sagar has been appointed the side's skipper and is likely to start in the right corner, Ashan didn't give anything away with Iran's Amirhossein Bastami also known to play a similar role.

"We have to start with one of the two, there are no two ways about it. The one who will perform better in practice, and the one who does well according to the situation we give in practice,will definitely play in the team," declared the coach.

Having lifted the spirits of a side that seemed down and out, Ashan Kumar has given the Tamil Thalaivas a new identity. With an eye firmly on lifting the Pro Kabaddi 2023 trophy, he will be determined to see his troops put their best foot forward and script something memorable in the weeks to come.

Can the Tamil Thalaivas clinch the Pro Kabaddi 2023 title under Ashan Kumar's guidance? Have your say in the comments section below!

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Edited by Samya Majumdar
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