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Pro Kabaddi League 2017 Season 5: Sachin and Fazel are the fittest players, says Gujarat Fortunegiants physio Olivia Witek in exclusive interview

997   //    26 Sep 2017, 17:07 IST

Wittek (centre) has played a huge role in Gujarat's run of form

The Gujarat Fortunegiants team has been a highly impressive unit in the fifth season of the Pro Kabaddi League. With a sparkling debut, the west Indian franchise was the table topper in Zone A until being dethroned by fellow debutant Haryana Steelers during the ongoing Delhi leg.

Gujarat have already made their title ambitions clear having lost just three matches out of the 15 they have contested so far. One of the reasons why they have earned so much success is because of the fitness of the Gujarat players. It can be attributed to their Polish physiotherapist Olivia Witek, who has worked tirelessly with the entire brigade for nearly three months.

Hailing from a family of medical practitioners, Witek has been no stranger to aggressive sports although working with Indian players has been new to her. Sportskeeda caught up with her recently where she spoke about how she got introduced to Pro Kabaddi and shared her experience so far in an exclusive chat.

Here are a few excerpts:

How did you get involved with the Gujarat Fortunegiants team in the fifth season of Pro Kabaddi League?

I came to India with the Polish team for the Kabaddi World Cup and I met a lot of people during the tournament. Soon afterward, I got a lot of proposals to become the physio of Pro Kabaddi teams.

I chose the Gujarat Fortunegiants as I knew a couple of players there like Fazel Atrachali and Abozar Mighani. I was familiar with them as I had worked with them during the Kabaddi World Cup. They are funny and I picked the Gujarat team.

How did you start off as a physio? Tell us a bit about your early years.

I come from a family of doctors in Warsaw, so my family has always been full of fit people. As a child, I got involved in a lot of sports like football, boxing and volleyball and was always focussed on fitness because of my family members. A player has only about 10 years but there is no such shelf life for a physio. So, I chose to be a physio.


Wittek was amazed at the food habits of the Indian players (Image courtesy: Gujarat Fortunegiants)

How has the experience of working in Pro Kabaddi been? Have you encountered any problem with communication and players’ eating habits?

I have been working for about three months now in Pro Kabaddi. It was initially very hard to work here. This is a totally new experience for me and for the players too, it has been an absolutely new experience to work with me.

I changed a lot of things in practice, recovery process -- practically in almost everything. Although after all these days, it is now easier for me.

The first problem that I had here was the language barrier. Having worked with kabaddi players before, it is not difficult for me to know the mentality of a player but they struggled to communicate their own problems to me. Some of them did not know English, some Tamil players did not even know Hindi.

After 3 months of being with them, I do understand Hindi ‘thoda thoda’ and they too have overcome the communication gap to a certain extent.

Another major problem that I encountered in my initial few weeks was the food. It is totally different from what we have in Europe. In India, the food has a lot of spices and butter in general. I have tried to make them avoid these and insisted that they have a lot more of protein but they did not want to initially as they struggled to break from these eating habits.

It was way easier for me to inculcate these healthy eating habits in Polish players.

Who would you say is the fittest player in the Gujarat team?

In Gujarat team, I would say Sachin is the fittest among the raiders and I would pick Fazel as the fittest among the defenders.

Fazel had a dislocated bone in his right hand about a month back. But with a lot of treatment and painkillers, he faces no discomfort now.