'We have partnered with experts, players & star coaches to address mental health issues'

Kabaddi Adda CEO Arvind Sivdas shared that 'Mann Ki Jeet' campaign aims to educate kabaddi players on mental health and encourages them to spread the message in the community

e4m by Mansi Sharma
Updated: Jul 5, 2021 9:16 AM
Arvind Sivdas

Operating in a risk-driven and highly competitive environment while dealing with ceaseless expectations paired with intense media scrutiny could leave many of the athletes withering under the pressure and dealing with mental health issues. In the past few years, we have seen the likes of Sania Mirza, Sachin Tendulkar, and most recently Naomi Osaka opening up about their struggles of dealing with mental health issues and starting a positive conversation in this space. And taking this ahead, Kabaddi Adda recently unveiled its new mental health campaign, especially for the Kabaddi ecosystem. Titled ‘Mann Ki Jeet’, the in-house campaign aims to build a greater support system for the player community at the grassroot level. 

Speaking about the initiative, Kabaddi Adda CEO Arvind Sivdas, shared, “Kabaddi is the second-most popular sport in India, after cricket, and up until 2019 was gaining a lot of attention. However, last year completely pulled the plug on any activity in the sphere and we are sure that would have left many players disheartened and also worried about their future. Because the attention they were getting, and the training they were getting, suddenly stopped. So, we decided to help those players out and partnered with several mental health experts, Kabaddi players, and star coaches to inform the community about mental health issues and that they could seek help.”

He added that since the major chunk of Kabaddi players right now belongs to the heartland India, primarily the Hindi-speaking belt, it was a conscious effort on the brand’s part to keep all the discussions in Hindi, so it could really help the players. 

The first-leg of the campaign started with 3 live sessions with Mental Health Expert Dr. Santosh Chaturvedi, Dronacharya Awardee Coach Rambir Singh Khokar and Arjuna Awardee Coaches BC Ramesh & Ashok Shinde. Special invites have also been extended to kabaddi players and coaches from 90+ academies (800+ players) who qualified to participate in the upcoming K7 Kabaddi tournament. 

Sivdas elaborated, “K7 is going to be the first big tournament to be played post the lockdown and the young players are obviously in a lot of stress because of that. We are giving them an understanding of how mental health is as important as physical health. And seeing some big players and coaches open up about their own mental health struggles will give them the courage to speak of their own issues.” 

The players will not only get access to these live sessions but will also be able to directly interact with the speakers for better knowledge. They will also be prompted and supported to get in touch with the mental health experts personally. 

“We are starting with the K7 tournament and will extend it to all the future Kabaddi tournaments. We will also be making it mandatory for all the players to seek professional help for mental health issues and stress and attend therapy sessions,” Sivdas highlighted. 

With this move, Kabaddi Adda is not only aiming to educate and support the Kabaddi players and coaches but their communities as well. “Most of these players come from humble backgrounds and areas where there is little to no information about mental health issues. We are hoping that these players will go back to their towns after these sessions and become the ambassadors for this cause, educating their communities and helping them get proper medical attention.” 

For the same purpose, Kabaddi Adda has made the whole campaign a community-led initiative and has curated the whole agenda in-house. They are organising the panels and marketing these themselves, with digital and word-of-mouth being the primary form of communication. “We are pushing these established players, coaches and the participants in the campaigns to talk to the media and within the community to spread the message far and wide. We want this campaign to have a life of its own.”  

On being asked, was it difficult to get established players and coaches to speak about their mental health struggles for the campaign, Sivdas said, “Surprisingly, it was very easy. They all wanted to talk about it because they reckoned that no one was there to help them when they were dealing with this stress or mental health issues. And they whole-heartedly wanted to support the initiative!” 

He concluded by highlighting that going ahead, Kabaddi Adda wants the campaign to grow beyond the sport and reach out to every athlete growing up in Bharat. “We will be improving our vernacular capabilities, adding sessions in regional languages and we really want athletes across sports to attend and learn from this.”

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