What’s the story?
The Pro Kabaddi League is all set to feature 12 teams in the fifth season of its running after four new teams were added. Three cities have been finalised – Chennai, Ahmedabad, and Lucknow, while the fourth team will be from the state of Haryana. The names of the teams are still undecided.
The Chennai team will be owned by a partnership of Indian cricketing great Sachin Tendulkar and entrepreneur N Prasad. The remaining three teams have been picked up by major business houses, which are Adani, JSW and GMR Group.
Uday Shankar, Chairman and CEO, Star India said, “We believe that with the support of existing and new partners, we are well on our course to realising a socially transformative sports agenda. The interest shown by these corporates is evidence of the kabaddi’s immense potential.”
Meanwhile, Janardan Singh Gehlot, the president of the International Kabaddi Federation quipped, “We laud Star India and Mashal Sports for uniquely transforming and renewing kabaddi. The addition of four new teams to the ever-growing league signifies a promising road ahead for the sport in India as well as over the world.”
In case you didn’t know...
Kabaddi has grown leaps and bounds in the last few years to become one of India’s most popular spectator sport. The Pro Kabaddi League has so far held four seasons, which have been extremely successful.
The heart of the matter
This comes as an addition to the league’s growing stature. Earlier this week, Chinese mobile phone maker VIVO was named as the PKL’s title sponsor in a deal that was signed on a five-year contract which was valued at a staggering Rs. 300 crore.
The eight existing teams in the league are Dabang Delhi, Bengaluru Bulls, Bengal Warriors, Telugu Titans, U Mumba, Patna Pirates, Puneri Paltan and the Jaipur Pink Panthers. With the addition of the four teams, the league is expected to surpass all others and become India’s biggest in terms of the number of teams and geographical coverage.
The fifth season is expected to start in the coming months, featuring a total of 12 teams from 11 states across India. It will be played over a period of over three months i.e. 13 weeks and will feature 130 matches.
It is a step in the right direction, given the exponential growth the sport has seen. Here’s hoping season five will surpass the previous four!
Also read: 2016: A year when Kabaddi went global!