Press Release

Thigh Five! How Pro Kabaddi League captured the hearts

4 September 2014

Jaipur Pink Panthers' skipper Navneet Gautam was trying his level best to keep his feet on the ground after his team won the inaugural Pro Kabaddi League title beating U Mumba on Sunday.
The flash bulbs, numerous cameras and a full house were something he and the other players were trying hard to deal with over the past six weeks.
On Sunday, the excitement was even more. From relative obscurity, the sport of kabaddi had captured the public and the TV audience.
So what led to this turnaround? "It was a complete entertainment, a masala package," feels Gautam. "We will try to make it more entertaining next time," he promised.
More than 500 million viewers watched the entire competition. It seemed unthinkable till a few weeks ago.
"Kabaddi had every ingredient, including skill, strategy and speed, to emerge as a serious sport and woo fans. Above all, it is a true blue Indian sport," felt Uday Shankar, CEO of Star India, the official broadcasters.
Anand Mahindra, co-promoter of Mashal Sports, the organisers of the league, was also taken by surprise.
"We have genuinely been overwhelmed by the support kabaddi has received from all quarters, be it the media, film fraternity, sportspersons or the government. The viewership data further reinforces the fact that Pro Kabaddi is India's new sports revolution," said Mahindra.
The brain behind the event, Charu Sharma, reckons, "It was a visual spectacle which caught the fancy of the people. I think our success lies in not only retaining rural fans, but making it appealing for the urban audience at the same time. I think it did the trick," he added.
Indeed, state-of-the-art technical equipment that included 14 cameras - including ultra-slow motion cameras that magnified the smallest details on the field, crane cameras for overhead shots, all delivered by a world class team, and played a part as it made for great prime time viewing.
"The fact that kabaddi was never considered a prime time sport for the urban audience was the reason for its grand success," feels veteran kabaddi enthusiast Ranjit Dalvi. He further observes, "Kabaddi events were always organized to celebrate politicians' birthdays or to mark the silver or diamond jubilees of clubs. PKL was the first event when a genuine effort was made to organize a world class event," he observed.
Buoyed by the success of the PKL, organisers are thinking of organising a World Championship next January and the second edition of PKL in March next year.
"A lot depends on various permissions, but we are keen to organise the World Championships in January next year with about 10 to 12 countries participating," informed Charu Sharma, managing director of Mashal Sports, organisers of PKL.
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