Poland Kabaddi captain Michal Spiczko: "We aim to reach the semis of the World Cup"
Making their Kabaddi World Cup debut, Poland aim a spot in the knockout stages. Exclusive interview with their captain Michal Spiczko.
The third edition of the Kabaddi World Cup is the biggest yet as it comes after the sport took the fancy of the world, thanks to the introduction of the Pro Kabaddi League (PKL), which brought this indigenous sport back to the limelight. Kabaddi is now not only a popular game in India, but across the globe as players from farwaway lands dream of making it big in the PKL. Teams from all the continents have travelled to Ahmedabad, India, to compete for the coveted World Cup.
USA, England, Kenya, Thailand, Argentina are just a few teams you wouldn’t associate with India’s gift to the world – Kabaddi – yet, they are here and are ready to rub shoulders with the best. Another team which will make its debut today is a small country from Eastern Europe – Poland. Michal Spiczko, their captain and the first ever European player to play in the PKL, talked to Sportskeeda about their expectations from the World Cup, their strengths and team unity.
We aim to reach the semis: Michal Spiczko
“Our aim is to qualify for the semi-final. But, the crucial game is the match vs Kenya as we only focus on the next opponent, something we learned while playing American Football. So we are focussing on Kenya and we want to beat them badly,” said the Polish captain when asked about the team’s chances in the 12-team tournament.
Sitting in Pool B alongside Iran, Japan, Thailand, USA, and Kenya, Poland will have to be at their best if they want to qualify for the knockout stages.
Michal added, “I promise that our motivation is on a high level right now. Iran are a tough opponent, but we can definitely go toe to toe, if not more, with the rest of the teams. We are aiming for the semis and waiting to see who finishes in the top 2 spots in Pool A.”
The Poles start their 2016 Kabaddi World Cup campaign against another newcomer in the kabaddi world, in the form of Kenya, today at 8 pm IST. When asked about the difference in quality of the two teams, the owner of an IT firm back home highlighted his team’s strengths and revealed how they will approach the game.
“We'll try to provoke them. We know they are fast, but I think the anticipation and temptation will be crucial. We are a more physical team and we'll try to dominate them physically - that's our game plan. We'll be calm and confident with our decisions - which will be key to winning in my opinion,” he elaborated.
The Poles have not left any stone unturned in their preparation for this match. The 29-year-old explained, “We have spent tons of hours analysing them. Unfortunately, we didn't have all the material in terms of videos as they are also new in the game. But, we know their strengths and weaknesses, which we’ll try to exploit.”
“Team spirit is very crucial”
Despite being on the bench for most of his stint with the Bengaluru Bulls, Michal was seen joking with all the players, spreading joy and maintaining a healthy team spirit – something he believes is pivotal in team sport. The effervescent Pole explained that this is very crucial in kabaddi and one of the biggest strengths of the Polish team.
“This is very crucial. The spirit of the team has to be on a high level. It is very important for us. Sometimes, I am forcing people to give me high-fives, clapping for each other and have fun,” continued Michal. Having fun is very important as kabaddi is extremely fun, despite being a brutal sport. We need to be loud on the field and feel the game. So, keeping the mood in the team on a high level is super important.”
Being the only player from Poland to have played in the Pro Kabaddi League and one of the few players to make a seamless transition from American football to kabaddi, Michal brings invaluable experience to the team. But, like the true leader he is, he refuses to talk about his individual quality and insists that his focus remains on improving the team’s performance as a whole.
“Our kabaddi is growing and as a captain, I have focussed on the team and not on my individual skills, which I will do after the World Cup and try to become a much better individual player. But, right now my focus is on the team. Let's see after the match how much of my experience I can impart to the others on the mat,” explained Michal.
Talking about his vision, Michal emphasised on the importance of the PKL in the development of the players and the increase in popularity of the sport in Poland. He said that it is his dream to see more players from Poland play in the Pro Kabaddi League and highlighted that the Kabaddi World Cup gives them the perfect platform to showcase their skills.
“I think if we qualify for the knockouts, we will have more Polish players in the Pro Kabaddi League - something I dream of. It will be extremely important for the Polish people and help them understand the sport better,” said Michal before signing off.
You can catch Michal Spiczko and co in action when Poland face Kenya in their opening encounter of the 2016 Kabaddi World Cup at 8 pm.