SAI Online Sports Development Programme: Evolution of Kabaddi- The Household Game of India

The Sports Authority of India (SAI) has come up with an Online Coach Development Programme for 20 sporting disciplines. Reputed personals from the Kabaddi ecosystem conducted an online session that got underway on the 27th of April 2020 through ''Zoom''. This Programme mainly focused on the development of the coaches at a time like this when there is no sporting action, probably at least for the next coming few months!

Click here to get full schedule of SAI Online Coach Development Programme for Kabaddi

 

Kiren Rijiju, Minister of Youth Affairs and Sports Address

The first session got underway on 27th April 2020 with the Sports Minister Mr. Kiren Rijiju addressing over 700 coaches globally who were attending this online session. In his address, he spoke about the importance of online workshops in a time like this which allows us to up-skill with the use of technology. He also pledged everyone to practice social distancing and said ''I'm sure we will win this battle against Covid-19 and be able to get to the grounds soon but until then it's important to keep ourselves updated about the sport.'' He also spoke about the inclusion of Kabaddi in the Olympics, 

Kabaddi already has its mark in the Asian Games, not just India but all Asian countries must come together to ensure the sport gets included in the Olympics and this is our ultimate goal. This can be achieved by improving the standard of the game in India and also ensure we take the game to all parts of India and then to the rest of the world, said Kiren Rijiju

 

Prasad Rao, Dronacharya awardee and former India coach was the first panelist to conduct the session where he spoke about ''Recent Trends in Kabaddi: Changes in Rules and Techniques. History of Kabaddi in the Asian Games."
The session went underway with Prasad Rao talking about the history of Kabaddi in Asian games. 

 

History of Kabaddi

history of Kabaddi
History of Kabaddi Time Line
​​​​​​*All Logos belong to the respective owners of the mentioned events

 

1990 was the first time Kabaddi was introduced in the Asian games and from 1990 to 1998 the game was played on a mud court.
In 2002 the games were held in Busan, South Korea which was the first time when the game shifted from Mud to Mat but the game still did not introduce shoes, after that season of the Asian Games which saw a lot of players getting injured then the idea of shoes came into the picture and it was implemented from the next games in 2006.
The 2006 Asian Games was held in Doha, Qatar which saw a lot of changes from the previous editions. The game of Kabaddi went from outdoors to indoors, there were better mats used, shoes were used for the first time in the Asian Games.
Overall, the Kabaddi event took the status of an international event with an International Standard. From here, the graph has always been upwards. 2006 Asian Games were the mark of the beginning of Kabaddi Broadcasting. And many matches were broadcasted live and its good reception was not just on the Broadcasting front but also from the audience in the stadium where tickets got sold out 3 days before the event. Mr. Rao mentioned that it was a tough time for him to manage everyone as he was the competition manager for Kabaddi at 2006 Asian Games.
After the successful 2006 games, the next games in 2010 at Guangzhou during which had another milestone that was reached where Women's Kabaddi was included for the first time in the Asian Games.

By then the standard of Kabaddi had already gone up as compared to previous editions and every edition saw a lot of things change and Asian Games was the first step to bring the good-looking Kabaddi that people always wanted to see.

How Kabaddi become a household game?

Prasad Rao spoke about the earlier trends where Kabaddi did not have any media, press coverage, and live telecasts of games but now it has completely changed. The game has become Media and TV consumable. The 2016 Kabaddi World Cup which was hosted in Ahmadabad, India saw the Star Sports telecast the tournament live in 14 different channels across 100+ countries and this is the kind of growth we are talking about now.

Kabaddi on TV today has excellent presentations, premier packaging which has made the sport look so good on TV and media which people love to consume these days. Events like Pro Kabaddi League where all kinds of age groups get involved to make the game a household game as it is today. The growth has been immense - from Stadium to Living Room, from Rural to Urban - has made this sport the 2nd most popular viewed sport in the country after the Indian Premier League.

The 2019 edition of the PKL saw 328 million views as compared to 462 million views of the IPL 2019, the gap is not much and this is the growth that Kabaddi has achieved and a lot of this credit must go to Star Sports and Mashal Sports who has succeeded in popularizing the sport.

 

Social and financial status of players post-PKL

The Pro Kabaddi League was first introduced in 2014 during which there was a lot of talk in the town about making the game more popular and there came a lot of money in the game. In the first edition of the PKL, the most expensive player in the Auctions was Rakesh Kumar and he was brought for 12.8 Lakhs. In 2014, 12.8 Lakhs was very big money in the Kabaddi circuit and a player being able to earn 12.8 lakhs by playing the sport for 2-3 months was something very fascinating. Moving ahead in the 4th edition of PKL the most expensive player in the auctions was Mohit Chillar who was sold for 53 Lakhs and again people went bonkers back then that a team can spend that much amount of money for a player and we could sense the game is growing at a rapid pace. Moving further ahead in the last edition of the PKL the most expensive player to be sold was Siddharth Desai for 1.45 crores and this is the growth of financials that we can see today and this will keep improving as seasons keep coming by.

As the finances grew player's social status grew, they started traveling by flights, staying at good hotels and people started recognizing them at public places. No one would have imagined that they could be earning this much amount of money for 2-3 months of playing the sport.

New Young Players Program

New Young Players (NYP) is the talent identification program put in place by the management of Pro Kabaddi League where any player in the age group of 18-22 will be identified and put through training - the best ones will eventually get picked by the franchisees as a part of the NYP program.

Over the last 7 seasons, a total of 11000+ players have participated in the program out of which 700+ players have been identified to be put through training and finally 107 of them have been picked by PKL teams.

Programs like these change the lives of young players and give them a perfect platform to express their skills to get noticed and begin their careers.

Change of Rules

Kabaddi has seen a lot of changes over the last few years and one of them is the rule changes that happened a few years ago to make the game more interesting and fast paced. The changes that were made are listed below.

  1. Inclusion of Bonus line: To give a raider a chance to move deeper in the mat to score an extra point which opens up a chance for the defender to stop the raider.

  2. 30 second Raid: To remove defensive play by the raider, this means that the raider has only 30 seconds to score a point or get out.

  3. Do or Die: To make the game faster and force the teams to go for the kill; in this rule, you cannot have more than two consecutive empty raids.

  4. Super Tackle: To give defenders an upper hand when three or fewer defenders on the mat and they stop the raider that gives them 2 points instead of 1.

These changes have made the sport very popular and the game has become fast-paced as compared to before, for instance, earlier the final scores of a game would be single digits like 7-9, 6-4 and so on but now we can the games going to scores like 35-40, 45-39 and so on, this change is one of the key reasons behind the popularity and fan base it has today.