Double treat for kabaddi enthusiasts

Double treat for kabaddi enthusiasts

It was at first a strange sight, but a sight nevertheless to behold. A group of young kids had made a rectangular box and scribbled a middle line, a baulk line and an end line on either side. As one of them approached the opponent half, a kid lunged at the attacker and held on to his ankle. Then after a while, one of them shouted, “Hey, that is a super tackle!”

For youngsters who play cricket, occasionally flirting with football and badminton, giving a try at kabaddi was a heartening moment to encounter. It was in some ways a testimony to the success of Pro Kabaddi League (PKL), which was launched in 2014.

The second season of the league has finished last month and the eight team league, stretched over 37 days and eight cities, was a resounding hit.The success of Pro Kabaddi League (PKL) has prompted the organisers and team franchisees to explore the feasibility of conducting the “carnival” of the sport twice a year, beginning 2016.

However, two seasons a year, with January 2016 as a tentative date for season 3, followed by an approximate six-month break prompts a few questions on the feasibility of its expansion in such a manner.

But Radha Kapoor, team owner of Dabang Delhi franchisee believes that the sport has garnered mass following across the country. She further quotes the figures stressing on the widespread effect that kabaddi has witnessed across television, digital and most importantly, people queuing up to watch it in stadiums.

“PKL has grown both commercially and organically, from instadia spectator turnout (with over 90 per cent attendance) to increase in broadcast viewership (45 per cent increase to viewership from PKL 1) or even on social media which has seen a strong upsurge, especially from the metros and large cities,” Kapoor tells Metrolife over e-mail.

Allaying doubts of an overkill and viewer saturation point, Kapoor cites that PKL has broken myths about kabaddi being confined to rural belts of the nation. Its appreciation and people getting hooked over television and internet has made it a viable commercial venture.

The format, structure and its simplicity all add up to entice and enhance viewer experience. “There is no reason to believe why India may not have an appetite for an indigenous sport that is short, indoors, offers a great viewer/spectator experience and more affordable, unlike other major sporting events in India,” says Kapoor, director, DoIt Sports Management.

Kapoor concurs and allures to the possibility of expansion in team base in the future. She further says that, “expanding team base will only lead to promotion of this traditional high octane sport. It will also give opportunity for more kabaddi players to display their skills and talents and mesmerise the crowd by being part of the league.”

Also on the anvil of Dabang Delhi is to take kabaddi to other centres. In that regard, playing Dabang Delhi home matches in other northern cities is being mulled.

“Dabang Delhi is the only team representing North India. Hosting more matches outside of Delhi will only expand our fan base and more importantly augur well for the sport,” says Kapoor.

The excitement among youngsters has been a particular takeaway of the PKL experience and something that is set to be enriched from next year. For those kids and their ilk, the likes of Amit Chillar, Anup Kumar, Kashiling Adake, Ravinder Pahal, Rahul Chaudhari, among others could be the stars to take to the mat.

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