With Star Sports Pro Kabaddi, the sport discovers its lost cant
In the summer of 2011, an image tore through the souls of the few that still loved kabaddi. Just hours after beating England to win the world title, the young girls were seen standing on the street with the trophy and an oversized cheque for company.
The apathy was numbing to the senses and the sight of world champions waiting for an auto to get home just about summed up the state of the sport in India. The fact that kabaddi owes its roots to our nation made it even worse.
Just four years later, kabaddi is buzzing through the drawing rooms, cutting across classes and drawing fans by the minute. The Star Sports Pro Kabaddi League has been a gentle reminder of what a little packaging and money can do to energise a dormant sport.
Kabaddi is a cultural treat that strikes a chord with average Indians. An ancient Indian craft, the sport of kabaddi was languishing on the sidelines for lack of support and resources, despite it being adapted into the Asian Games.
And despite several years of success for the Indian team, there was barely a beat missed. Even as fans rejoiced at the prowess of the team every four years, it was a largely neglected sport. The introduction of Star Sports Pro Kabaddi in 2014 changed the course of this sport, setting in motion, an irreversible journey into the hearts of urban masses.
Deep into the second season, it is amply clear that the lost voices of kabaddi are rising from well of neglect. “Kabaddi, kabaddi, kabaddi” – the cant that serves as a war cry for the raiders is reverberating across the nation.