The PKL and its franchises are often made up entirely of men. Since Ankita Matondkar became Puneri Patlan's chief physio, a few things have changed; It is a coincidence that she is helping Paltan since only days before season her HOD at Kokilaben Hospital asked her if she would be interested in job.
"I thought about it a lot when I was offered this opportunity because it's a men's league. So I researched everything possible. I spoke with our CEO, trustees and HOD. Everyone backed me and told me that if I was confident then they don't have any issues. I have travelled with sports teams before, but never with an all-male side. My colleague is working as a physio for Jaipur and I also knew some of the players from before. So, I felt comfortable with being around people I know," said Matondkar as per a report.
The Puneri Head Physio added, "I have been associated with PKL teams for off-field procedures such as pre-season fitness tests, but this is my first time on the field in the tournament."
In the beginning, according to Matondkar, the players were a little hesitant to collaborate with her "I also thought about if the players will be comfortable with a female physio. Because they have to come to me if they are facing an issue. Initially, the players were a little shy, but then within a week, all of the players felt comfortable while working with me and they started treating me as just another physio. Overall, this has turned out to be a good experience for me. My CEO told me that even if I feel slightly uncomfortable, I have to go back home. And I have not felt that yet."
The Head Physio also stressed the need of constantly being alert, "Kabaddi is a very injury-prone sport because it's a contact sport. You never know when a player incurs an injury. That's why we have to be on our toes all the time. Small niggles will happen in every match. We have to manage and prepare the players for the next match. But, the players are very fit and they are used to facing niggles. I have seen the players recover faster than athletes in other sports and the kabaddi players' pain tolerance level is quite high."
Matondkar further discussed the players' preseason injury prevention programme "The athletes go through tests well before the season, where we find out in which aspect the player needs to work on before the season. We check if the players have any niggles or aches and we also identify aspects the players can improve on to put up a better performance. We look to prevent injuries and enhance performances."