Ajay Thakur, who was the first Kabaddi player to be bestowed with the Padma Shri award, revealed that the sport of Kabaddi has a bright future in the country. Thakur added that winning the 2016 Kabaddi World Cup for India has been the best moment of his career in the popular sport so far.
Indian Kabaddi team captain, Ajay Thakur, created history as he became the first Kabaddi player in the history of the sport to be bestowed with the prestigious Padma Shri award. The veteran star and national went on to suggest that the 'desi' sport will be the most popular game in the country within a decade.
"No other player from this sport has received such a prominent award. I think the government has also started recognising its popularity. I am confident this award will further motivate other kabaddi players and so, I am assured that this game has a bright future in India. Just wait for 8-10 years, you will see kabaddi as the most popular game in our country," Thakur said while speaking to IANS reporters.
Thakur, who hails from Himachal Pradesh, was named for the Padma Shri, India's fourth highest civilian award, on the occasion of Republic Day. The ace raider has over 14 years of professional experience as a top level player as he delved into his long journey in the sport of kabaddi over the years.
"Winning the 2016 Kabaddi World Cup for my country was the best moment for me. Moreover, I was the top scorer (68 raid points) in that tournament so the joy was doubled. However, losing at the Asian Games last year was the low point of my career, as it happened under my captaincy and we had to settle for bronze. With kabaddi being a complete Indian game and if such mishappenings take place, it hurts," Thakur added.
The 32-year old player, who is the captain of Tamil Nadu-based Tamil Thalaivas in the Pro Kabaddi League, credited the Pro Kabaddi League (PKL) for the rise and expansion of the game globally.
"If the PKL wasn't there, kabaddi wouldn't have reached such heights. Just see how this rural Indian game has expanded in such a short span of time. This league has helped the game grow not only in India but also in other countries.
"A game's popularity depends on how many countries play it. Earlier, just India
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