When the Pro Kabaddi League (PKL) was started in 2014, the skeptical voices raised apprehensions about its viability and sustainability. The fact that by the end of PKL’s first season, 435 million viewers had watched the whole tournament while 86.4 million alone stayed glued to the final on the TV, shut down those voices once and for all. After the League was canceled last year due to Covid, the governing committee of Mashal Sports, the driving force behind the Pro Kabaddi League (PKL), has announced the date for the upcoming 8th season. In 2021, the season would run from July 20 to October 19.
Growing Status of Kabaddi
Prior to the launch of PKL, Kabaddi remained a “sub-terranean, subaltern sport,” which, despite being a part of the Asian Games since 1990, and regularly adding to India’s medal tally, remained unnoticed like cricket, football, hockey or tennis. But with the arrival of PKL in 2014, the Asian Games 2014 Kabaddi Gold is looked at differently. In the opinion of organizers and players, that has been the league’s biggest achievement. The start of PKL has also manifested the sport’s success onto the players’ status. During the inaugural season, a top Kabaddi player’s salary reached a maximum of Rs. 12 lakh per season but today, that amount has gone up ten-fold. The average salary of a player has also gone up 10 times from a basic Rs. 6-7 lakh. Considering the fact that the league managed to achieve all this within 5 years and 6 seasons, the introduction of PKL into the national sports scene has been an unprecedented development.
According to Sports Betting site Betway, there has been a pique of interest online for Kabaddi over the last few years.
Kabaddi – A Viable Career
PKL has heralded a new era for Kabaddi as a historic sport and this is thanks to Mashal Sports and Star India, who joined hands to elevate this sport to international standards. During Season 5, after the biggest non-cricket deal signed in the history of Indian sport, VIVO also came on board as title sponsors. Around the same time, the prize money was hiked to Rs. 8 crores. Such exciting innovations in the game have infused new life into Kabaddi, making it attractive to young talent from all over India. The addition of four new teams into the 5th edition of PKL has made PKL India’s largest sports league based on wide geographical representation and number of teams. This has intensified competition and made Kabaddi even more exciting. As a result, Kabaddi is now being seen as a viable career option for aspiring youngsters.
Mashal Sports is the organizer behind PKL and their marvelous initiative enjoys the backing of Star India. Talking about it, Charu Sharma, well-known sports commentator, one of the founders of Mashal Sports, has this to say, “(The fact) that the sport had immense popularity throughout India – from the street to the national level – was an eye-opener. I wondered why the game hadn’t been made more available to us.” Anupam Goswami, Executive Head of Mashal Sports and the League Commission of PKL, has also been instrumental in the launch of the business and broadcast programming of Kabaddi. Talking about his venture, Goswami says, “Heralding a new era in Indian sports, Pro Kabaddi has revamped Kabaddi, transforming it into an inspirational, world-class spectacle with a remarkable following.”
Now with the dates for the 8th season already out, the league is set to elevate the stature of Kabaddi even higher in the coming years. Some of the stats in this article were put together by The Insider.