Patna Pirates coach Arjun Singh: "There is added pressure to win being the defending champions"
The Star Sports Pro Kabaddi action moves to the home of the defending champions – Patna Pirates as the Patliputra Sports Complex, Patna will play host to the tournament for 4 days – from 7th to 10th July. The Pirates have won all their matches so far in season 4 of the league and they will be facing the challenge from Bengaluru Bulls, Bengal Warriors, Dabang Delhi, and Jaipur Pink Pathers in their hometown now.
In an exclusive interview with Sportskeeda, Patna Pirates coach, Arjun Singh briefed us about his team’s preparations, their aim to retain the title they won last season while he also talked about the unity in the team.
The 50-year-old coach has been associated with the sport of kabaddi for a long while. The man from Ghazibad, Uttar Pradesh is one of the main men behind the rise of the sport in Uttar Pradesh.
“I started playing kabaddi when I was just a kid. I played at school level, reached the national level in school tournaments, then junior level national matches, and slowly and steadily, I made kabaddi my life and career,” said Arjun Singh.
“There is pressure to defend the title”
Singh who works as the sub-inspector in Uttar Pradesh police, was awarded the best coach of Uttar Pradesh award by former CM Mayawati in 2008. He also has a great track record in coaching at the junior level, where he led the UP state team to a bronze medal in National Games for seven consecutive years and also helped the Indian Under-19 team to a gold medal at the Junior Asian Championship in 2011-12 at Malaysia.
After working as the assistant coach at Dabang Delhi, Arjun took over the mantle of coaching the defending champions, Patna Pirates for Season 4. His first move was to take the Pirates for a one-month long practice away from the limelight, in Gandhinagar as a team-bonding exercise.
He admits that there is pressure on the team to defend the title, but said that nobody from the team is overawed by the challenge.
“I won’t deny that the team is under pressure, because all the teams are good, there is minor difference between each team’s performance and all are playing to win, and with Patna being the defending champions, there is a bit more pressure and responsibility on them,” said Arjun Singh.
Patna Pirates are one of the most fit teams in the tournament and the coach shed some light at the background work that goes into improving the players’ fitness.
He revealed, “The team has a 150-minute practice session in morning and evening while a 90-120 minutes session in the afternoon is done in the gym.”
“Pardeep Narwal is not our only raider”
As the tournament now moves to Patna, there may be added pressure on them to maintain their winning run, but the soft-spoken coach refuted any such claims saying that the team is calm and looking forward to the challenge.
He also explained that he has been working hard on the team’s defence more while giving each of the players personal attention before the tournament started.
“The month long time that we get to prepare the team is not much to completely change a player’s style, but I have tried my best. I focused on each player’s strength and weakness and worked on it,” he continued. “I worked on making the defence line strong. I focused 60 percent on the defence line and 40 percent on the raiding of the team.”
On being questioned if the team’s raiding responsibilities lie solely on Pardeep Narwal’s shoulders, the coach clarified that this is not the case. He named players like Rajesh Mondal, Surjeet Singh and Kuldeep Singh as players who can help the 19-year-old. He added that the team’s main defender, Iranian Fazel Atrachali is also a good raider and the former U Mumba man can give the other raiders a rest when needed.
“Patna Pirates is one big family”
Patna Pirates have been labelled as one of the smartest teams in the tournament and Arjun Singh shed some light on why that’s the case. He also talked the family-like love between the players and went on to talk about the unity in the camp.
“Last moments tips like, you can take a dive, you hold the ankle, you can get a bonus, or hand touch, these small reminders are what I put in their ears just before the match,” said the coach. “I am very happy to mention that my team’s biggest strength is their unity, my players love each other, they have their meals together, practice, help each other, they are like a family, no matter in which team they were before and will be in the next season, they are a family now.”
The Pirates were given a grand welcome as they made their way to Bihar’s capital city after winning all 3 matches this season. Arjun Singh said that the team is overwhelmed at the support the team has received so far and assured the fans that they will aim to win the title again for the fans.
“We are in Patna at present, and the welcome we received at the airport was overwhelming. We will be playing on the crowd support and will try to make the fans happy and win the tournament again,” he signed off.
Patna Pirates begin their home campaign against Bengaluru Bulls tonight. You can follow it LIVE here.