With the Asian Games 2023 on the horizon, the Indian Kabaddi team are gearing up for a monumental challenge, buoyed by their recent triumph in the Asian Kabaddi Championship.
Among the stars shining bright on the kabaddi horizon is Narendar Kandola, a rising sensation in Indian kabaddi. The 22-year-old played a pivotal role in Tamil Thalaivas' remarkable journey to redemption during the ninth season of the Pro Kabaddi League (PKL). He notched an impressive 250 points in a single season. His outstanding performance marked a significant achievement in his burgeoning career.
In the lead-up to the highly anticipated Asian Games 2023, Sportskeeda had the privilege of sitting with Narender Kandola in an exclusive interview.
Though he won't be participating in the big event this time, Kandola shared his thoughts on the Asian Games, his aspirations, and the evolution of this sport over the years.
Narendar Kandola expressed his strong desire to represent India at the international level and discussed the areas of his game that he's keen to improve.
"Of course, I want to play for India. I have already represented India in the Junior World Cup, and I'm putting in a lot of effort to earn a spot in the senior team," he said, highlighting his commitment to wearing the Indian jersey.
When asked about the specific aspects of his game that he believes require enhancement, the youngster stated:
"I would love to increase my speed and strength as much as possible."
Regarding the Indian national squad's prospects at the upcoming Asian Games, Narendar Kandola expressed optimism, saying:
"India has a great chance of success in the Asian Games 2023. In the last Asian Championship, the team performed admirably. I wish India wins."
He also noted that all the players in the Indian squad are exceptionally talented. Kandola also highlighted the resilience of Pawan Kumar Sehrawat, who played remarkably well despite being injured during the Asian Championship and earned the title of MVP.
"All the players are very good in the Indian Squad. Pawan Bhaisaab got injured yet he played substantially well in the Asian championship, he is the MVP of the team. Also, players like Aslam and Sachin too performed well. So India can always win," he added further.
"I think Iran is a tough team to beat" - Narendar Kandola singles out Iran as the team that could challenge India at the Asian Games 2023
The Kabaddi youngster identified Iran as a formidable opponent for India in the Asian Games and acknowledged the familiarity between players from both teams due to their participation in various leagues.
"I think Iran is a tough team to beat. It goes both ways. Both teams will make strategies according to the other's play style. We’ll see who succeeds," he remarked.
Discussing the influence of kabaddi leagues and international tournaments on inspiring the younger generation to take up the sport, Kandola credited the Pro Kabaddi League with revitalizing the interest in kabaddi among children.
"The Asian Games is the biggest international event in kabaddi, but I think Pro Kabaddi has inspired the kids to take up kabaddi the most. Before this, kids didn't know about kabaddi being in Asian Games. Pro Kabaddi gave a new life to kabaddi," he added.
Reflecting on the transformation of kabaddi over the past decade, especially since the inception of the Pro Kabaddi League, Kandola pointed out significant changes.
"There have been a lot of changes. The focus shifted from only being on power to speed, agility, and power. The rules of the game have also changed," he signed off, highlighting the sport's evolution toward a more dynamic and agile style of play.