Star’s sheer professionalism driving kabaddi to pinnacle


Kabaddi has virtually all parameters acquired the status of number one non-cricketing sport in the country. Not because it is liked by masses. Because it is made to be liked by masses. There is no madness in methodology to drive this rural, combat team sport to the pinnacle – on professional and popularity scales.

Mashal Sports is building and nurturing each aspect of the game. There is no madness in their methodology. It’s thorough professionalism. That made a rural, combat sport one of the top two hottest sporting properties in the country. That with a well thought out planning and thorough execution is grooming the amateurs to the demands of the pro, corporate world.

Those sat on the laurels are left to lag behind. That will best describe the difference Pro Kabaddi League has created to surge ahead of Indian Super League.

Eyebrows were raised when Mashal Sports claimed that they want to make kabaddi as big as cricket. These were not mere claims. This ambition is driven by superb strategies, excellent execution. The think tank behind the success of kabaddi is well ahead of times. Claims are based on certain road maps for success.

The plan of creating the talent pool for auction was put on place with the decision to expand the PKL to 12 teams from 8. The talent hunt has been pan-India and screening systematic. The exercise has reached its final stages. In-residence, month long New Young Players Training Camp is currently on at Panvel.

This is the third phase of the New Young Players Program, which is intended to train the next crop of talent for PKL. Mashal Sports worked in collaboration with the Amateur Kabaddi Federation of India through this talent hunt to groom Gen Next of kabaddi pros. It started with an open camp in phase 1, conducted through State and district associations. Ability to play kabaddi with a valid Identity Card and being in the 18-22 age group were the criterion to participate.

Phase one involved as many as 4,710 aspiring youngsters in 15 cities across 11 States. Mumbai (713), Coimbatore (532) and Jaipur (445) were the cities with best interest. Players’ game skills and drills, performance under pressure scenarios, fitness and physical qualities (height & weight) were the parameters for assessment. The scrutiny left the trainers with 310 youngsters for the second phase of training.

The second stage of assessment and training was tough. It was a five-day scrutiny to identify potential champions from the promising talent. The filtered 131-strong talent pool is trained at a 30-day camp to be ready for extremely competitive action and razzmatazz of the commercial world of kabaddi.

This is one glimpse of what makes PKL title worth Rs 60 crores per annum – 333% more than the next best ISL, which has a title tagged at Rs 18 crore annually. This is one indication of what brings country’s best corporate with interest in sports to kabaddi to grab all the stakes available. PKL’s available four new franchisees are grabbed by JSW, Adani Group, GMR and Sachin Tendulkar-N Prasad consortium. While the closest rival remains uncertain in its expansion plans – whether to add one, two or three teams to its existing eight.