How has PKL increased over the years?: The Pro Kabaddi League (PKL) is a professional level Kabaddi league in India. Since its inception in 2014, the league has totally revolutionised the sport and has made it into an aspirational sport for players and fans alike. It is backed by the International Kabaddi Federation (IKF), Asian Kabaddi Federation (AKF) and the Amateur Kabaddi Federation of India (AKFI).
How has PKL increased over the years?
The Pro Kabaddi 2018 has become of the major sports league of the country and has got a following of millions of people over the years. With VIVO sponsoring the tournament, the financial value of the tournament has also gone over the roof. The Pro Kabaddi is now seen as a major competition for the most famous cricket league in the world, Indian Premier League.
With the 2018 edition of the tournament already in full fledged motion and the teams fighting to get to the top of the Pro Kabaddi points table, let us have a look at how the tournament started and has taken off since.
The idea of a kabaddi league first came up in 2010, when Deoraj Chaturvedi, an official from the Asian Kabaddi Federation met Charu Sharma at the Guangzhou Asian Games. After some other such meetings, the designing and conceptualisation the league began under the firm called Mashal Sports.
Finding a broadcaster was a challenging and critical thing to make the League successful. Many sports channels were approached and finally Star was convinced to come on board. Although there were some concerns about whether the sport of Kabaddi will be able to fill stadiums.
It was decided to keep the entry fee to keep relatively low in order to attract more and more audience to the stadiums. To keep their costs down, a caravan-format was adopted in which the cities hosted matches in clusters rather than having teams travel all around the country after every match.
Star had the responsibility of marketing the sport in such a way that could attract the urban audience. In early 2014, the channel began a teaser campaign that showed the moves and tactics of kabaddi without naming the sport. A lot of Bollywood endorsements and film promotions were also done.
The first season was played from 26th July 2014 to 31st August 2014 with eight teams. There were double round robin matches along with semi-finals, third-place match and the final. Jaipur Pink Panthers became the champion by defeating U Mumba in the final. India’s national captain, Rakesh Kumar was the costliest among the players, bought for 12.8 lakhs by the Patna Pirates.
The inaugural season was seen by 435 million viewers, placing it just behind the total-season viewership of the 2014 Indian Premier League season. Star Sports, PKL’s broadcaster, subsequently announced in 2015 that it would acquire a 74% stake in league’s parent company Mashal Sports.
The second season of Pro Kabaddi League was played from 18th July 2015 to 23rd Auh=gut 2015. This time too, a total of 60 matches were played. U Mumba came out as the champions at the end of the season by defeating Bengaluru Bulls in the final.
In the season three of PKL, it was decided to have two editions in a year with each edition to be a five-week event, once in January and once in June. This time around, Patna Pirates were crowned the champions after they defeated defending champions U Mumba in a nail-biting final.
The fourth season was played from 25th June to 31st July 2016. This season saw the launch of first professional women kabaddi league, Women’s kabaddi challenge (WKC). There were three teams in WKC, namely Ice Divas, Fire Birds and Storm Queens. PKL saw the Patna Pirates defeating Jaipur Pink Panthers to become the first team in PKl history to win two titles and as well as defend their title. In WKC, Storm Queens defeated the Fire Birds to win the title.
The fifth season off PKL saw the introduction of four new teams, making PKL the largest league in India in terms of the number of franchises – 12. The most expensive pick of the audition for PKl 5 was Nitin Tomar, who was bought by UP Yoddhas for a sum of Rs 93 lakhs.
This time, the teams were divided into two zones of six teams each. Teams from the same zone played each other thrice and then played 6 additional matches with the team from the other zone. Top three teams from each zone qualified for the super playoffs. Patna Pirates became the champion after defeating Gujarat Fortunegiants. This was Patna Pirates’ third consecutive title in PKL.
The Way Ahead
The sixth season of PKL is scheduled to be held from 7th October 2018 to 5th January 2019. Auction for the sixth season broke all the records as Monu Goyat became the most expensive player at Rs 1.51 crores as he was roped in by Haryana Steelers. Fazal Atrachali became the costliest foreign players as he was bought for Rs 1 crore by U Mumba.
The PKL has evidently followed a significantly different path from that taken by other leagues such as the IPL and the ISL. PKl has changed at a breakneck pace in just four years. It has bought the game of the to the front stage and has changed the lives of hundreds of players.
Having become synonymous with kabaddi, the Pro Kabaddi League is expected to keep growing and expanding the reach of Kabaddi.