Wednesday's Pro Kabaddi League (PKL) auctions will see a massive 422 players go under the hammer for the sixth edition of the tournament.
Along with the best of the Indian and overseas kabaddi stars are 87 youngsters between the age of 18 and 22 who have been drafted from the Future Kabaddi Heroes (FKH) programme.
The FKH, which began in 2017, is a nation-wide talent scouting and development initiative that aims to unearth the next generation of kabaddi stars. The program is divided into three phases, where a total of over 200-220 players were shortlisted for Phase II post trials in the 18 cities. Out of these participants, the best 80-100 players were chosen for the final phase for a month-long training camp and have subsequently been drafted in the player auction pool, under the ‘New Young Players’ category.
While 2018's scouting spread across 18 cities and attracted 3,400 participants, there was a dip in the number as compared to last season, where 4600 participants took part in the first phase and 133 of them were shortlisted for the auctions.
Commenting on the role of the FKH, PKL commissioner, Anupam Goswami said, “It has enjoyed great success in its very first year by bringing in a new generation of talented kabaddi athletes, who raised the overall performance bar of the league very significantly. Through the remarkable contribution of these young athletes, the ‘gen-next’ of kabaddi heroes has been created.”
“Of the total 55 players who made it to the franchise teams for the PKL Season V through this programme, three have made it to the top-level Category A and five to Category B on the basis of overall performance-based re-categorization of the overall player pool for Season VI. We have every reason to believe that the Season V young heroes will continue their success story in Season VI. At the same time, we have also expanded the scope of our efforts to uncover new talent to more geographies across the country,” he added.
Many youngsters lapped up the opportunity last season such as Rohit Gulia from Gujarat FortuneGiants, U Mumba's Surender Singh and Tamil Thalaivas' Darshan J. However, one name that stood out was Sachin Tawar of Gujarat FortuneGiants, who amassed an impressive 173 points and was named the ‘Debutant of The Season’.
The upcoming auction, spread over two days, will undoubtedly be a chance for kabaddi aspirants to emulate Sachin, if not better his haul in his debut season.