Kabaddi is a sport that urban India has not traditionally adopted. So how does the modern-day revived Kabaddi and became India’s fastest-growing sport? This is the question that people might ask if it stays to grow at its own pace. Definitely, sounds mindboggling but one day it might happen and could surpass all other sports and turn into India’s number one sport. Unfortunately, once it was overlooked and left unnoticed, but now it is rising from being disregarded. Today, let’s discover how this game raises popularity in India.
What is Kabaddi?
Kabaddi is a contact team sport played between two teams of seven players each. An ancient wrestling sport that was originated from South Asia, though primarily an Indian game. The word Kabaddi might have been derived from the Tamilnadu word “KAI-PIDI” meaning to hold hands. This sport requires both the skills and strength to wrestle against opponents within the game. It is meant to require self-defense in response to attack and reflexes counter-attack. This is played on dirty and dusty courts.
The Upsurge of Kabaddi in India
The fame of Kabaddi has seen a significant rise to the point it became India’s fastest-growing sport. The attention it gets from the public was started with the 2006 Asian Games. From then on, the limelight to Kabaddi has been revived since the launching of the Pro Kabaddi League (PKL) in 2014. PKL has elevated the sport and now continues to raise awareness for Kabaddi’s interest. The attention in Kabaddi has grown up to 14% since 2015, and the interest in PKL has grown to 33%. The cognizance of the said sport has increased expeditiously and even overcome the popularity of football in the country.
In the same year, Star Sports had bought the TV rights to the Pro Kabaddi League as it became one of the network’s largest viewership and country’s main biggest leagues of all time. Though at first, it seems implausible because of the unpopularity of the sport. It has proven the skeptics wrong since Kabaddi gain the attention of the many. This sport has been embraced from rural to urban residents and turned out to be the second most-watched sport in India next to cricket.
In the years 2016 – 2017, the Pro Kabaddi League (KPL) has amplified TV viewership by almost a hundred million views in a year and surpassed the views of other sports in the world cup. Thus, this PKL league had become one of the world’s most-watched sport having the highest tv ratings compared to other most-watched sports in India. In addition, the investments and sponsorship for the sport had also exponentially increased, for a non-cricket sport, this is a surprise. As a result, the salaries of the players also improved along the way and were increased by 60%.
Thanks to well-planned advertising, marketing, and word of mouth about Kabaddi. Those were the main reasons behind the success of the popularity of the sport. And the TV appearances that have reached and attract viewers to watched the sport, while PKL has transformed the feedback and reviews regarding the sport into a positive connotation.
Pro Kabaddi League
The Pro Kabaddi League (PKL) is a sports initiative by Mashal Sports Pvt. Ltd and Star India Pvt. Ltd. It was first launched in 2014 and currently known as Vivo Pro Kabaddi League. The history of KPL all started when the PKL founder, Charu Sharma, was inspired by the success of the 2006 Asian Games Kabaddi competition, an indoor version of the game played on a court. PKL then expected to use a franchised based model after that, therefore, the league began from then on. At first, concerns and doubts were posed whether PKL would succeed. Surprisingly, the opening of the season was viewed by 86.4 million viewers and was beyond amazing for success
In addition, PKL has evolved into a professional level kabaddi league that is being broadcast on Star Sports which is happening in India. The competition set-up is based on and inspired by the successful Indian Premier League (IPL).
With the number of teams, the league has shown a rise from eight in its first launched to 12 teams in 2017. Since its first introduction, PKL has changed the sports culture in India and all completed its seven seasons. The league has therefore developed and revolutionized the kabaddi game with amazing improvements.
The main aim of the game is for a player “raider” on offense run into the opposing teams half-court, tag out as many of their offenders as possible to score a point. Then return to their own half-court without being an attack by the defenders. The game’s purpose is to score points within the time. When defending, the aim is to capture the invader by wrestling them to the ground to prevent returning to their half-court.
- The team consists of 12 players; it takes only 7 to the court.
- The duration of the match is two halves of 20 minutes with a five-minute break in the middle.
- The matches are categorized in age and weight categories.
- A toss of a coin with the winner will have the choice to have the first raid or not.
- The raider must take a breath to win a point while raiding and sprint into half of the opposition and tag one or more opponent team members. And then return to their own half of the pitch before inhaling again.
- The rider must continue to yell the word ‘Kabaddi’ repeatedly to prove that no other breath has been taken. Failure to do this ensures that even for the moment the rider must return without points to his own side of the court and a point is awarded to the opposite team for a good defensive game.
- The raiding team is defending, and the players must stop tagging them by the raiders and heading over the halfway line. A team can score a point while in defense by successfully preventing the raider from returning to their own half after tagging them.
- Raiders may only be grabbed by their limbs or torso, and it does not allow defenders to cross the centerline.
- Each team will get their turns in raiding and defending. The two teams will also switch sides of the court.
Future of Kabaddi
The future of Kabaddi is still unknown because, despite the upsurge of Kabaddi in India, it stays second against cricket. The number of based fans of cricket are much way bigger than kabaddi. However, it still shocks us with the views and acceptance of Indian residents it gets. Unfortunately, the PKL does not have yet a global fan-based up to know. But we never know in the upcoming years it might get global attention next to sport cricket. Nothing is impossible since Kabaddi is now getting so much attention to everyone.
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