PKL: Anup and Rakesh not happy with biennial league

The prospect of earning more money than in the first two years has not made U Mumba skipper Anup Kumar and his new teammate Rakesh Kumar, come out in favour of the decision of the Pro Kabaddi League organisers to make it a biennial affair from 2016.

U Mumba's Anup Kumar (orange) in action against Patna Pirates in Pro Kabaddi season 2.   -  K. Murali Kumar

The prospect of earning more money than in the first two years has not made U Mumba skipper Anup Kumar and his new teammate Rakesh Kumar, come out in favour of the decision of the Pro Kabaddi League organisers to make it a biennial affair from 2016.

“It’s not bad, but according to me it should be only an annual affair as too much of a good thing may not be good for public consumption on TV. Holding it once in a season means people would be eager to view it as the waiting period would be longer,” said two-time Asian Games gold medal winner Anup at a media meet here today.

“If 6-7 months are taken away by the leagues, there are other tournaments too that we have to figure in like national tournaments, national games and international tournaments, leaving us with very little time for rest. A lot of injuries too happen in kabaddi,” said 32-year-old Haryana policeman Anup, who led U Mumba to the league title earlier this year.

Three-time Asiad gold medal winner Rakesh Kumar, who has joined the Mumbai franchise ahead of season 3 of the League which is set to commence on January 30, 2016, after playing for the Patna Pirates for the first two seasons of the League, endorsed his view.

“We have inter-department events, nationals. It would be good if it’s held once a year. People will then look forward to it,” said Delhi-based Northern Railways’ player Rakesh who led India to their eighth successive gold medal in the 2014 Asian Games in Incheon, South Korea.

The league, organised by Mashal Sports and Star India in association with the International Kabaddi Federation, Asian Kabaddi Federation and the Amateur Kabaddi Federation of India, “is now going to be a bi-annual league with two seasons every year, promising much more action for the audiences and also encouraging them to take up to playing kabaddi,” it was announced earlier.

Anup, however, added that the coming year, in which two seasons are planned to be held by the organisers, would show whether it’s a success.

“It will be clear this coming year. If the response is good then holding two seasons in a year will be meaningful, but it’s also true that with continuous play the chances of injuries rise,” said Anup.

Rakesh said that his contract with Patna Pirates, which finished third in 2014 and fourth in season 2, ended after the first two seasons and he has now joined hands with his friend Anup’s team.

“The players are given 10 per cent rise in our salaries for every new season,” said Rakesh who was injured and missed the major part of season 2 for Patna after being bought for Rs 12.80 lakh by the Pirates in 2014, which was the highest bid at the first players’ auction.

Both the players are set to join the national camp for the upcoming South Asian Federation Games, which starts tomorrow at Bengaluru and will continue till January 6, 2016 after which they will join the U Mumba squad which is already having a pre-season camp in Kerala.

Asked about Rakesh’s inclusion in U Mumba, winners in season 2 after ending up as runners-up in season 1, Anup said the team was already strong and his inclusion further adds to its strength.

“Our team is the same as last year’s. It’s already strong and with Anup in it now it will be stronger,” said Anup who was bid successfully and bought for Rs 10.20 lakh in the first auction by the Mumbai franchise.

“Rakesh is not only an exceptional player but is also a great mentor to the youngsters of the team. His addition will definitely take U Mumba a notch higher and will help us in our goal of becoming champions yet again,” he added.

On his part Rakesh too sounded happy to join U Mumba.

“I am very happy to be with U Mumba, which is the champion team. I will try to give 100 per cent. Anup is my good friend. U Mumba has been the most consistent team across both seasons of the league and have the most balanced squad in terms of youth and experience. The players, the coaching staff and, of course Anup, have made my transition into the team very comfortable. I am thrilled to be a part of this team and am looking forward to defending our title this year,” he added.