Best News Network

9 years of PKL: Ex-UP Yoddhas captain Devadiga on rise of the league, kabaddi revolution and more

Wednesday marks exactly nine years since the inaugural edition of the Pro Kabaddi League (PKL) kickstarted on 26 July 2014, and changed the sport of kabaddi forever in India.

Back then, the tournament, still looking to catch up with the popularity of the Indian Premier League (IPL), had eight teams vying for the trophy. Fast forward nine years, and PKL is currently the second-most popular league in India after the IPL with 12 teams participating in the tournament that runs for over two months, and with every passing season, the league has only grown in popularity.

PKL has unearthed several talents like Anup Kumar, Pawan Sehrawat and Ajay Thakur to name a few. And one of the many kabaddi stars to have followed PKL closely is Rishank Devadiga, the 27-year-old who was part of the very-first PKL match when his team U Mumba took on Jaipur Pink Panthers on the opening day.

Related Articles


Pro Kabaddi League 2017: Sensational Rishank Devadiga helps UP Yoddha hammer Jaipur Pink Panthers


Pro Kabaddi League 2018: Pardeep Narwal leads from the front as Patna Pirates beat UP Yoddha in thriller

Since then, Rishank has gone on to play for Bengal Warriors, and even captain the UP Yoddhas, experiencing eight successive seasons in the league. Rishank, however, went unsold in PKL season 9 last year.

Ahead of the tenth season of PKL, the auction for which will be held on 8 and 9 September, Firstpost caught up with Rishank Devadiga, where he spoke on the evolution of kabaddi in India since PKL began, taking the league global, and his memories from the first season of the tournament.


Question: You have played and followed the Pro Kabaddi League from close quarters. It has been likened to tournaments like IPL, ISL, etc. Could you describe how PKL has helped kabaddi evolve in a country where cricket and football are largely prominent?

Rishank: Look, kabaddi being a rural sport, it was not that popular. When we started playing, we did not know that kabaddi can grow so much, but after PKL, kabaddi got its recognition at the highest level.

It’s a big achievement for all the players who have witnessed this PKL journey. I am grateful enough to be a part of it.

PKL has been a turning point for a lot of athletes. Partheek Dahiya, Akash Shinde are some of the examples. How do you think PKL has changed their lives?

I think all the kabaddi players out there, are all from middle-class families. So, PKL has helped them financially. Talking about their fame, the name they have got, coming on TV, people are recognising them. They have a lot of fan base, especially the young players. It has helped them in many ways. They are lucky enough to be a part of PKL.

Could you recall the first season of PKL?

There are many memories. I think being part of the U Mumba team, it was a fabulous team. Nobody knew that kabaddi can grow so much. The first season, if I remember, we had a very strong team. The first match we played against Jaipur Pink Panthers, was an amazing match. The journey started from the first match. People loved that match, there were a lot of Bollywood stars who came to watch the match. It was an amazing journey for me, being a part of an iconic team like U Mumba. We had many good players in the team. Anup Kumar was leading the team. I was very lucky to be part of that team.

How has kabaddi as a sport evolved technically?

Look, technically, there has been a lot of changes in kabaddi. Before, when we used to play, there wasn’t a third raid, so the game was very slow. But, the third raid rule had started after PKL, and it made the game very interesting, very fast. People love to watch action, so you can see action in a few seconds. You get to see something new, you get to see some adrenaline rush during the match. That is what is important in every game. It keeps you LIVE in the match and keeps you very excited to watch.

What are you expecting from the upcoming PKL season? Which teams do you think will make the playoffs?

Look, as of now I cannot say anything about any team because we don’t know which players will be in which team. I think Puneri Paltan is the strongest team because they will retain the young players. They look stable this time and they will enter the playoffs. I think once the season starts, we can start guessing who can win the title.

IPL franchises have acquired teams in the USA, South Africa etc. What do you think can be done to globalize a league like the PKL?

It’s very challenging as of now. There are fewer international matches that are being played. The number of international matches should be high. There is only PKL that we can see on the table and some domestic matches, I think Star Sports or Mashal Sports should promote those domestic matches/tournaments as well. Kabaddi can run the entire year on television.

There are many tournaments going on all over the country, but it’s not being telecast. It will be a major change if more of domestic and international matches are being telecast. I think many people, many coaches are working on the grassroots level but PKL must take an initiative to bring up the grassroots level players and showcase them on the highest level. I think television is the only way players can be recognised, and, if we show more of the domestic matches, we will get many good young players.

You led the UP Yoddhas where you were quite successful. What are the responsibilities you take up as the captain of a kabaddi side?

As a captain, there are many responsibilities. I think, a captain needs to lead the team from the front, and all the decisions during a match, it all depends on the captain. The captain plays a very big role, and being the captain of UP Yoddhas, it was an amazing journey for me.

We had many ups and downs that season, but we came back very strong and we had an eight-match winning streak. It was a great feeling, being a captain, you have responsibilities, and it’s good to take those responsibilities and play during the match.

I give my players advice during the team meeting, before a game and during the game as well. We take advice from our coaches as well.

Tell us about your commentary stint so far.

When I played the PKL, it was a great feeling. I played eight seasons, and now I am into commentary. I will try to play this season, but let’s see what happens. If I am fit, I will be playing this season, else I will be in the commentary box this season as well. Kabaddi has given us many things, many opportunities. I always cherish each and every opportunity that I get, and I work towards it.

Stay connected with us on social media platform for instant update click here to join our  Twitter, & Facebook

We are now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@TechiUpdate) and stay updated with the latest Technology headlines.

For all the latest Sports News Click Here 

 For the latest news and updates, follow us on Google News

Read original article here

Denial of responsibility! NewsAzi is an automatic aggregator around the global media. All the content are available free on Internet. We have just arranged it in one platform for educational purpose only. In each content, the hyperlink to the primary source is specified. All trademarks belong to their rightful owners, all materials to their authors. If you are the owner of the content and do not want us to publish your materials on our website, please contact us by email – [email protected]. The content will be deleted within 24 hours.