ProKabaddi has been a resounding success

The stakeholders of Star Sports ProKabaddi say that the eight-team league has been a resounding success. They do not rule out the league being expanded with two more teams in the near future.

Patna Pirates after winning the last season of ProKabaddi.   -  Sandeep Saxena

The stakeholders of Star Sports ProKabaddi say that the eight-team league has been a resounding success. They do not rule out the league being expanded with two more teams in the near future.

Jaipur Pink Panthers, U Mumba and Patna Pirates have won the three editions held so far and others are aspiring to emulate them. A handful of players had expressed genuine apprehensions of two seasons fitted into a calendar year, primarily because of injury and fitness fears.

Actually the season-4 that starts on June 25 will be the third one in under 12 months. The success of the league can by measured in a way by the money spent – Rs. 15.61 crore on 96 players at the auction on Friday and some more on the 16 players retained by the eight teams.

U Mumba owner Ronnie Screwvala was upbeat of keeping the attention span on the sport twice in a year. “Most leagues in the world are played over six to seven months. It takes five to ten years to build a league. So the best way forward is to have two leagues in a year. It gives a career option to the kabaddi players. U Mumbai trains for a month before the league and so the tournament keeps the players busy for over two months,’’ said Screwvala.

After consultations with the franchise owners, the Amateur Kabaddi Federation of India (AKFI) and Mashal Sports which created the ProKabaddi, decided that each franchise would be allowed to retain two players.

There were suggestions for an open auction and also to retain three players, eventually all of them settled for two. U Mumbai was able to retain Anup Kumar and Rishank Devadiga and buy Rakesh Kumar and Jeeva Kumar. The season-2 winner also bought three Bangladesh players, Md. Aruduzzaman Munshi (who had previously played for U Mumba in Season 1), Md. Zakir Hossain and Md. Tuhin Tarafder.

Jaipur Pink Panthers’ owner Abhishek Bachchan said the league has been a profitable venture from season -2. The Panthers won the title in season-1. “We have had to make difficult and calculating choices when it came to retaining players,’’ he said.

The owner of Patna Pirates that won the season-3 title, Rajesh Shah said: “Sponsors need to be convinced about the value they get. We should be able to close deals with sponsors soon.’’

Anupam Goswami, Head-ProKabddi Star India said: “The game is evolving and analytics are being used in kabaddi in a big way. The broadcast of kabaddi by Star Sports is the best across any indoor sport in the world. We are going to bring in a surprise that will be quite remarkable. We have syndicate deals in 96 countries and West Asia and because of its sizeable South Asian population it has the second largest viewership.’’

Charu Sharma who has been the architect of ProKabaddi said that what Mashal Sports had expected to happen (build the tournament) in 20 years has happened soon. “This Rome has been built in two years,’’ he said with a glint of triumph.

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