Shailaja watched her Iranian team standing at the top of the podium, receiving their gold medals at the Asian Games 2018.
Shailaja Jain, a Nashik based Indian coach, broke stereotypes by joining Iran's national women's kabaddi team 18 months ago. She eventually helped them to bag a gold medal.
Shailaja watched her Iranian team standing on the top step of the podium, receiving their gold medals at the Asian Games 2018.
The crowd was surprised when Shailaja's girls stopped India from winning their third successive Asian gold. They emerged as the new powerhouse of the world of Kabaddi, having beaten India 27-24, in the finals held at Theatre Garuda.
She did not want the repeat of the 2014 games, where the Iranian women's team despite having reached the finals lost to India. This Friday Shailaja's girls were not ready to settle for anything less than gold.
And thus, despite trailing 8-13 at the half-time, Iran fought back to clinch 19 points in the second half, displaying excellent tactical awareness and defensive discipline.
"This final match was very special for me and the team. After a long time, Iran won a gold. I'm thankful to the federation [Iran] for showing faith in me," Shailaja told the PTI.
Shailaja ran through the memories of her first visit to Iran.
"When I visited Iran first time after taking up the job, I said this is my mission, to prove I'm the best coach. And now we have the result."
Her determination to prove herself as the best tactician in the world was preceded by a series of things she found necessary in order to achieve her goal, like learning Parsi for better communication.
Her genuine efforts put after her team, which she considered to be her very own, despite the usual communal differences was evidently showcased in her following statement.
"Communication was not easy, so I learned Parsi. Before the match, I told the girls 'don't send me back to India without the gold medal'. Some of them came back and told me 'madam, we've given you what you wanted.'"
Being an Indian, Shailaja reveals her dejection over India's defeat but states that her love for her job has helped her triumph over the tricky situation.
Theatre Garuda saw a range of emotions running high, earlier today where both the Indian and Iranian men's teams were seen cheering for their respective women counterparts from the stands.
As one may have expected, Indian players, including the ones off the field, were left devastated after the defeat but Ajay Thakur, men's team captain, grabbed eyeballs for his inability to control his emotions seeing yet another Indian kabaddi team going down to Iran for the second time in less than 24 hours.
"I'm sad India lost. Like any other Indian, I love my country. But I love kabaddi also. Being their coach, I think only of the Iran team. Kabaddi is very popular in India. They all know what kabaddi is about. Everyone watched this match back in Iran," Shailaja later added.
Coming to the positive aspects which came out of this disappointing defeat of the Indian team, Indian coach insisted that Iran's win is a reflection of kabaddi's globalisation.
"Yes, the defeat hurts because we had come with an aim to create a hat-trick. The game has been globalized. Other teams will also fancy their chances now. It is becoming an Olympic sport," he said.
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Last Updated 9, Sep 2018, 10:34 AM