In Kabaddi, if somebody asks you to name one of the best defenders in the game, then one which pops up to the mind instantly is Iran’s Fazel Atrachali.
Hailing from the northern part of Iran, left corner specialist Fazel was drawn to the sport from a young age of 11. Fazel’s story is similar to many like him who take up a career after getting inspired by a superstar. In his case, the source of inspiration was erstwhile Iranian captain Gholam Reza Mazandarani. During an interaction with Indianexpress.com, Fazel said, “He used to go to India and Pakistan to play Kabaddi. He lived next to my house and I admired what he used to do back then. It was only then that I decided that in kabaddi I have to do something.”
While Fazel is satisfied with his career in PKL so far, he revealed that it was a struggle to get a chance during the initial period ( second season ). It was only in U Mumbai’s 13th match that he was given an opportunity to prove his mettle. Since then, he has not looked back and recently against Haryana Steelers, he became the first overseas player to score 100 tackle points.
“Now everything is good for me and I have settled. When I came to India during the second season, I wanted one chance but first had to prove my loyalties. So I requested the coach, and the captain to give me one opportunity to showcase what I was capable of. Season 3 was comparatively much better as I was given more chances. Since then it has been a joyful ride.”
Initial break was not the only problem that Fazel has faced so far. The barrier of language and food is something which Fazel is still dealing with. Revealing that back home they use salt with minimal spices, Fazel revealed in India he finds everything spicy. “India food is very spicy. very very spicy. So I tend to manage on fruits. When I want to eat something, I ask the hotel management to prepare the food according to my requirement. But people here have been very warm and supportive.”
Pro Kabaddi has been a life changer for the player and the money which he is getting here – Rs 55 lakh – is nearly three times of what the Iranian government gives him for representing the country. Playing his fourth season of Pro Kabaddi, Fazel said, “The amount what we are getting here is very good. This is better than what our government gives us. After playing in PKL, I bought a new car and a new house. This time when I will go back, I’ll buy one more car.”
After spending three years in India, Fazel says he is slowly getting accustomed to the country and its culture. The first thing that grabbed his attention was India’s national anthem. “I love the Indian national anthem and I especially like the last line where it ends with Jaya he.”
There have been many moments when the star defender has astonished everyone with his skills. When asked about how he prepares himself ahead of the match, Fazel revealed that he spends 2-3 hours formulating strategies for each and every player on the opposite side. “I make sure that I know how the other team performed in their previous game and then I make plans for each of them. So I am well prepared and ready to take him down.”
Fazel also revealed that he prefers body block more than ankle hold. “I like fighting and before making my career in Kabaddi, I used to play wrestling and Judo. And thus some of my moves are same as that of wrestling.”
Iran continues to be a prominent name in the world of wrestling and players have also brought in some of the wrestling moves in Kabaddi. It is visible when one sees the likes of Fazel or Abozar take down a raider. “Some moves in Kabaddi are similar to that of wrestling. The way a wrestler grapples his opponent is more or less alike to what we do in defence. Both the games include physical strength and that’s why we more often see players from wrestling background make a huge impact.”
Fazel, who has a well-built body, disclosed that he is not a big fan of going to a gym. “My physique is completely natural. I have never gone to a gym. My father is a bodyguard even my mother is nicely built. Gyming can not give you strength, it only puffs up your body.”
With a long way to go in the league, Fazel has his targets set. Being one of the senior players in the team, Fazel wants to guide his team to win the title in their maiden season. “We are here to play and win. Our only focus is that. We want to show everyone here that we are good players,” he concluded.