There was a time and it wasn't long ago when the only thought that came to our minds about Kabaddi was some rural pahalwans on a clay-court doing dangal, isn't it? Yes, there were tournaments and matches, but they had a very local reach. I mean a person sitting in Maharashtra would never ever know what sort of progress were made by this major cultural sport of our Indian society there in Punjab. But my dear friend this gap has been bridged.
Ladies and gentlemen, Pro Kabaddi league as we all know is that revolutionary platform that has set a new pinnacle for this underrated sport to achieve. And not only to the sport, the players have also got what they lacked from our side, our support and appreciation.
Let's have a look at the journey of this amazing venture that helped us look at our traditional sport in a more cheerful way.
We can proudly call it as our very own sport, as it displays the perfect use of strength and strategy at the same time, looks like a human chess to me. But as the western culture is always favored, this perfect sport got buried to a limited group of society, mostly rural. There were world cups with the participation of around eight to ten countries but was it enough to wake up the feeling of patriotism within us for this sport? No. We always needed more.
'In the world where talent and skills are nothing without advertising, how would a sport like Kabaddi survive?' This must be the questing that would have clicked the makers of this remarkable venture.
A lost sport and its athletes on its own land, what would it need to make a big deal out of it?
Yes, this is all it took, a perfect branding. As the sport had a huge potential, to make people realise its importance one had to shake them up with glamour and to wake them up with some passion and dedication for the sport.
With branding and famous personalities, a perfect layout format was also necessary to make the game look how we see it today. Every team had an ideal logo which took the sport to a more admirable level.
Just like any other commercial sport, you can see these sportsmen wearing branded jerseys with sponsor's name on their chest, making it into a mainstream sport which is no longer a rural or backward game to play or to watch.
Another very important factor that boosted this game's popularity was bringing in foreign players like any other sports league. This made Pro Kabaddi one of the most promising leagues in Indian commercial field of sports.
In the present era, not the sun, but you need a spotlight to shine and that is what Pro Kabaddi has provided these players with. You can see both these pictures and observe how confident and strong Rakesh Kumar (Player- Patna Pirates) poses.
In the nation where cricket is praised like a religion, Kabaddi is also making its way through. It has drawn enough limelight to stand as high as any other sport and in my view holds the position as strong in our hearts as rugby holds in the hearts of Americans.
'The right attitude to carry with yourself is an important feature of an athlete'. Sandeep Narwal, 22, has made it easier for us to interpret this with his confident gesture. He says that he feels proud to be a Kabaddi player as it always was his dream, but back then in his starting days, the game hadn't been such a great deal. But Pro Kabaddi has provided them with the respect they wanted, the fame that they deserved and the money which was important for them to keep playing.
Talking more about his dream associated with the game, "Kabaddi is my life! I think about it all day long, every day, even when I'm asleep! My dream is to take the sport to a level that it becomes a part of the Olympic Games, and when that happens I wish to be part of the first-ever Indian kabaddi squad to play there".
A wider reach and deeper influence are the most positive response from this great sport. Amit Singh Chillar of Nizampur, who is playing for Delhi Dabbang in PKL's second season said, "Earlier, only people from my village, fellow kabaddi players and sportsmen from nearby villages knew my name. But now I am often asked to sign autographs or pose for selfies with fans".
Even Rakesh Sharma was recognised and was asked for some selfies when he landed in South Africa and asked for some help regarding the language.
In the end, we want this sport and its players to make the best it can make from this platform. An Olympic entry would be the most cherishing moment for this sport. And we praise Pro Kabaddi for providing the much-needed platform to our own sport and helping it reach our hearts.