Brands go kabaddi, kabaddi, kabaddi

Kabaddi found first exposure on an international forum in 1936, Berlin Olympics. Almost 90 years now – ideally it should have become a popular sport in India if not across the globe. However, lack of support from the right quarters kept it to be a sport played in akhadas, and rural and semi-rural play grounds.

Cricket ruled supreme and tears were shed for Hockey, the national sport of India not getting enough exposure and support. However, there is a shift in the stance now. Kabaddi is emerging out of the closet, and so are a few other sports.
Pro Kabaddi League, a major attempt at making Kabaddi popular was introduced in 2014. The upcoming season of Star Sports Pro Kabaddi League will feature a much deeper pool of national and international players. The squad strength of the teams has been bolstered from 14 members during the inaugural edition to 25 for the second season.  The move allows teams greater freedom to not only field local and young talent, but also to ensure that teams aren’t adversely affected by injuries.

With an objective to nurture and grow the sport in its bastion markets, Star Sports Pro Kabaddi will be broadcast in five languages- Kannada, Telugu and Marathi along with English and Hindi, across eight channels of the Star network as well as on hotstar. Enhanced graphics, analytics and commentary will make sure that the viewer experience is far more inclusive for season 2. The League will also reach out to a huge global audience over 100 countries, including viewers in the United States, United Kingdom, Middle East and Latin America. It will also have commentary from the field of play.

Commenting on Star Sports’ commitment to defining the sport, Nitin Kukreja, Head, Star Sports, said, “At Star, we are committed to reinvent the great Indian sport of Kabaddi and set it in today’s context. The task is to make the game relevant and aspirational for the millions of young and passionate fans across India. Our objective this season is to make Star Sports Pro Kabaddi bigger and better in terms of quality of play, broadcast and reach.”

“This season we will create a place of pride for the National Anthem, one unique feature no other sport has. Every day during the league, we will have eminent personalities and local musicians & bands sing the anthem in a manner that captures the essence of the entire country. Alongside the same, the league will have a social identity as Star Sports Pro Kabaddi pledges its commitment to the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan across the eight franchise cities to involve in-stadia audiences, franchise clubs, kabaddi players as well as viewers on TV to participate in keeping their surroundings clean,” Kukreja added.

Highlighting the mushrooming of the local ecosystem for Kabaddi, Janardan Singh Gehlot, President, International Kabaddi Federation, said, “It gives me immense pleasure to see the Kabaddi nurseries of India blooming again. Star Sports Pro Kabaddi has not only revitalized the sport but has also made Kabaddi a viable career option for young talent across the country.”

“The primary motive behind creating a league such as the Star Sports Pro Kabaddi was to showcase the spectacular athleticism of the top players and give these players their due. This new, International competitive sophisticated face of the game was appreciated equally by all sects of society, with an absence of a rural and urban divide. When it came to following Kabaddi, everybody was equally drawn to it. We have introduced several changes like we now have 2 timers for half a team just to kick in the pace as well as during the on field commentary the coach can ask for one special occasion when he can coach his team while the play is on. The coach can coach them on the backline. I have no doubt in my mind that armed with the continued commitment and encouragement extended by the Federation, the team owners, the media and of course  the Star Network, all of us can look forward to another blockbuster season.” said Charu Sharma, Director, Mashal Sports sharing his thoughts on the upcoming season.

Whereas Pawan Rana, CEO, Patna Pirates, said, “This year we have more time in terms of fitness , got time for a lot of camps, we have gone out and made sure that the team is the best.”

Mr. Anant Bajaj, Joint Managing Director, Bajaj Electricals Ltd on the association said, "This is the 2nd year of our association with Pro Kabaddi... and we were pleasantly surprised with the kind of traction that the sport garnered in the 1st season. Hence, we have decided to be present in a much larger scale as associate sponsors.  Bajaj Electricals is all about inspiring trust and this being a team sport, trust is an integral part for the players, be it to beat the opponents on ground or to win the match. We are also a fundamental part of the Indian homes with our consumer durables including appliances and fans as well the latest LED range of lighting. And Kabaddi has proved to be now of interest as a sport both in metros as well as small towns. Hence this association is beneficial to us too in the long run. We look forward to Pro Kabaddi becoming a truly popular sport".

Aniruddha Haldar, Marketing Head, Scooter, Media & Corporate, TVS Motors stated “for us Kabaddi represents the spirit, Zest and zeal of India, with a distinctive connect to the soil, a home grown sport that has recaptured the imagination of the Indian youth. Much like many of TVS Motors products like TVS Jupiter, TVS Star City+ which have found a place in countless hearts and Indian homes; as these are built by indigenous R&D, based on a deep understanding of the Indian consumers. We believe that the sport is entertaining and the League has an excellent future in which TVS Motors will be a long term partner”.

Star has reiterated its commitment to the sport by renewing the title sponsorship for the second season of the league. Eight leading brands- Bajaj Electricals, Department of Atomic Energy, Flipkart, Mahindra & Mahindra, State Bank of India, Thums Up, TVS Motors and VIP Frenchie have signed up as associate sponsors for season 2 of Star Sports Pro Kabaddi.

The grand prize of Star Sports Pro Kabaddi League season 2 will be a modern sculptural symbol, fusing ‘new age’ sensibilities in a traditional sport, designed by renowned designer Michael Foley. The trophy is designed to contrast unique materials –titanium and aluminium with ‘soil’ – bringing alive the symbolic connect and transition of the age old sport into the modern era. Soil is symbolic of the origins of Kabaddi. The metals Titanium and Aluminium represent very strong, resilient and light metals – an apt symbol for strength, agility and intelligence. The eight teams will vie for the coveted trophy across 60 matches in 37 days.

With Season 2 of Star Sports Pro Kabaddi starting July 18, there is a feverish anticipation following Amitabh Bachchan’s #LePanga rap and integration with Salman Khan’s Bajrangi Bhaijaan. One can only wait in eagerness as India’s leading sports broadcaster is set to deliver another epic season of the great Indian sport.



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