New Delhi, Sep. 2, 2014: President Pranab Mukherjee today conferred the National Sports Awards at a function at the Rashtrapati Bhavan on the occasion of National Sports Day on Friday, August 29. Captain of Indian Kabaddi team Mamata Poojary of Karkala who brought Gold medal to India in the World Cup in 2012 is one among the 15 Arjuna Awardees.
Mamata is the proud daughter of Boja Poojary and Kitti Poojary from Hermunde in Karkala Taluk of Udipi district. Mastering the rural sport Kabaddi in the very young age Mamata showed her talent at zone, taluk, district, state and national level. As a result of this she was selected for the national Kabaddi team.
Mamtha has had to travel the rough road, literally, to where she is now. “I actually started off as a volleyballer and switched to kabaddi by circumstance my school team were short of one player and drafted me in when I was in 12th standard… I must’ve been 16 then,” she recalls.
Looking back, she is thrilled with her decision. “Earlier, there were no takers. Now everybody wants to play kabaddi, especially after the Pro Kabaddi League (an IPL-style tourney in which big wigs such as Bollywood actor Abhishek Bachchan own teams),” she laughs. “I shall ever remain thankful to this sport, which has provided me my livelihood.”
Amidst the jubilation, a modest Mamtha does not forget those who helped her make it. “My parents are from an agricultural background but have supported me immensely. After I got married (to software engineer Abhishek Kotyan last year) my husband as well as my in-laws are a source of strength and encourage me to pursue my sporting career. I would also like to thank all those who have helped me emerge as a better player,” she says.
The performance of sportspersons for the four-year period from 2010 to 2013 has been considered for the recommendation of Arjuna awards. “The Arjuna award is such a huge honour. I just can’t describe how I am feeling right now,” she said. “I have won the World Cup as well as the Asian Games gold. But this is something that will stay with me. For the rest of my life I would be called an Arjuna awardee and that is truly exciting. I feel so complete.”