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Pro Kabaddi League changed the face of Kabaddi in India

The Pro Kabaddi League is a professional-level Kabaddi league in India which was launched in 2014 and has changed the face of Kabaddi in India. Kabaddi has emerged as a ruling game from a rural game.

Surbhi Khera
Last updated: 09.10.2019
Pro Kabaddi League changed the face of Kabaddi in India | Sports Social Blog

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It is indeed a difficult task to bring a sport into consideration in a country in which the world of sports is dominated by cricket but with remarkable marketing strategy, everything is possible. Kabaddi, a rural sport which developed in Indian subcontinent around 4000 years ago but the sport lost its popularity. But due to massive efforts and strategies, it has again risen up to unimaginable heights and have somewhat got close to the level of cricket. In 2013, Star India and Mashal Sports came up with an idea of Pro Kabaddi League which was similar to Indian Premier League which gave the sport an atmosphere to bloom again.

About Kabaddi


Kabaddi is a contact team sport which is played between two teams consisting of seven players each. It originated in modern Tamil region of the Indian subcontinent. The word “Kabaddi”, has been derived from the Tamil word “Kai-pidi” which simply means “to hold hands”. The game is also the national sport of Bangladesh.

There is no exact evidence of its origin or existence but the reference of it can be found in Mahabharata where Abhimanyu played a similar game. Other sources also claim it to be originated from the Vedic period of ancient India or the Sistan region of present-day Iran.

The objective of the game is for a single player on offence who is referred as a “raider”, to run into the opponent team’s court and tag out as many of their defenders as possible and also return to their own court without being tackled y the defenders and in a single breathe. If tackled, the players are taken out of the game and also brought back in for each point scored by their team.

The first framework of the rules was formulated in 1921 on the pattern of Sanjeevani and Gemini in a combined form in Maharashtra. Competitions on domestic level started to be played and due to increasing popularity, there was a need of an organization and thus in 1950, the All India Kabaddi Federation was formed. The sport gained international recognition when it was demonstrated as a sport at the Summer Olympics in 1936 in Berlin and later game became a part in the South Asian Federation (SAF) Games from 1984 at Dhaka, Bangladesh. It was included as a discipline at the 11th Asian Games Beijing in 1990 and India won the Gold medal. India embarked its name in Kabaddi’s history by winning 5 consecutive Gold medals in the Asian Games and has emerged as winners of the first two World Cups. In 2010 Asian Games which were held in Guangzhou, women’s Kabaddi got introduced.

But soon the popularity of the game faded as the air of cricket covering the sports world and the sport got restricted to rural areas only. There was then a requirement of a revolutionary approach and attract the audience towards the game. In 2013, Star India and Mashal Sports took the initiative and came up with Pro Kabaddi League which redefined the perspective and the game altogether. PKL is a professional-level Kabaddi league in India and was launched in 2014. There were doubts regarding its success but it became a ruling game from a rural game. The inaugural season was seen by 435 million viewers and the second by 552 million which shows how PKL upgraded the position of Indian Kabaddi.

The rules of PKL are similar to the indoor version of Kabaddi with bit alterations to encourage more scoring. The 2018 season was the sixth of the league and Patna Pirates has emerged as the most successful team bagging 3 titles. Currently, the seventh edition of the league is going on and was started on 20th July which will end on 19th October 2019.

Not only the face of Indian Kabaddi but also the lives of Kabaddi players got better due to such initiative. Rohit Kumar who plays as a raider for Bengaluru Bulls and Manjeet Chillar of Puneri Paltan both hail from a village and have emerged as the stars of PKL. Rohit said, “I used to lead an ordinary life before the PKL was launched. I used to dream of playing for top domestic teams like Services or Railways, but the PKL has changed everything. We are being paid well and people recognize us now.” He also added, “Life has become very busy now, but I am enjoying myself. PKL has given new lease of life to Kabaddi. I am happy with whatever I have got from this league.” He also appreciated the concept and said that it has helped not only financially but also helped them to gain popularity.

Amit Singh Chillar who plays for Delhi Dabbang said that, “Earlier, only people from my village, fellow Kabaddi players and sportsmen from nearby villages knew my name. But now I am often asked to sign autographs or pose for selfies with fans.”

This shows how PKL has turned out to be a success not only to boost the status of Kabaddi in the country but also for the players as well. It has paid them for their amazing skills and hard work. So, the gradual fading away of Kabaddi to the shift of a rural to ruling game, it has provided the players and viewers with an amazing sport.

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