Hyderabad: Discouraged once for choosing to play Kabaddi, Mamata Pujari, skipper of the Indian women's team that won the World Cup in Patna recently, has come a long way.

"Some people told my parents why they are letting me play Kabaddi as it's a men's game. But now, my village near Mangalore (in Karnataka) is known as Mamata's village," she said.

"Kabaddi is played mainly by girls from villages. Girls in cities select cricket, badminton or so. But now, popularity is growing for Kabaddi too," she said adding that there used to be a shortage of coaches earlier and the game had to be learnt by watching matches of other players.

Despite the odds, she persisted with the game and went on to play for India in 2006.

Expressing happiness, Mamata said her career got a boost after she shifted to Hyderabad in 2006 working for the Railways.

"Railways and the Government supported me a lot which helped in sharpening my game."

The recent Kabaddi World Cup attracted huge crowds with space becoming a premium, she said.

She urged the government to extend financial help to the players as an encouragement.

Noting that players from various other countries like Iran were putting up a good performance now, Mamata felt that the Kabaddi would get a boost if it is included in the Olympics.