Traditional sport, modern avatar

Written by Anirudh Vohra | Updated: Aug 3 2014, 08:31am hrs
TAKE A traditional sport, base it on the successful sporting league format a la IPL, add a bit of glitz and glamour and garnish it with a whole lot of professionalism. The result is a concoction called Pro Kabaddi League (PKL), the latest to join the league of extraordinary sporting leagues in the country. The first edition of the tournament started on July 26, with eight franchises consisting of players from around the world in fray.

The first signing and auction of players for the eight teams were held on May 20 in Mumbai. Indias national kabaddi captain Rakesh Kumar was the priciest among them all with a tag of R12.80 lakh bought over by the Patna franchise. Mostafa Noudehi was the highest paid overseas player bought for R6.6 lakh by the Pune franchise, among a host of other players hailing countries such as Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Iran, Japan, the UK, Indonesia, South Korea, Oman, Taiwan, Kenya and Turkmenistan.

Heres a look at the eight teams and some of the players to watch out for this season...

Bengaluru Bulls

Owner: Kosmik Global Media

Coach: Randhir Singh

Player to watch out for:

Manjit Chillar (all rounder)

Railway worker Manjit Chillar has been creating a splash in the kabaddi circuit. The all-rounder has won five gold medals in major national and international tournaments. The most memorable was winning gold at the 2010 Asian Games. Apart from kabaddi, Chillar also enjoys throwing his weight around in the wrestling ring.

Jaipur Pink Panthers

Owner: Abhishek Bachchan

Coach: Kasinathan Baskaran

Player to watch out for:

Navneet Gautam (defender)

With a 25 medals to his name, Navneet Gautam has left his mark on the game of kabaddi. This defender won his first medal at the professional level at the age of 19 years. His most memorable moment, however, was winning gold at the 2006 Asian Games. Gautam enjoys playing competitive football.

U Mumba

Owner: Unilazer Sports

Coach: Ravi Shetty

Player to watch out for:

Anup Kumar (raider)

Since entering the kabaddi circuit, this police inspector has racked up over 20 medals in national and international tournaments. However, his crowning glory came when he received the Arjuna Award in 2012 for his contribution and domination in the game. When this raider is not stealing bases, he enjoys hiking in his spare time.

Patna Pirates

Owner: Rajesh Shah

Coach: RS Khokhar

Player to watch out for:

Rakesh Kumar (raider)

From the being the son of a farmer working in the Indian Railways to making front page headlines, Rakesh Kumar has come a long way. With over 25 awards, 2012 Arjuna Award recipient, reigning captain of the Indian Kabaddi team and the leagues highest paid athlete this season. Rakesh Kumar proves to be a living rags to riches fairytale.

Bengal Warriors

Owner: Future Group

Coach: Raj Narain Sharma

Player to watch out for:

Nilesh Shinde (defender)

Nilesh Shinde, government employee turned feared defender. His most cherished moment in his seven years in the game came at the Asian Beach Games in 2010, where he took home gold. Shinde has seven more national and international medals. Apart from kabaddi, this captain enjoys cricket, swimming and plays volleyball too!

Dabang Delhi

Owner: Do It Sports Management

Coach: Arjun Singh

Player to watch out for:

Jasmer Singh (all rounder)

The second police inspector from HaryanaJasmer Singh, finds himself facing off against his colleague, Anup Kumar. Of his 15 medals, Jasmer cherishes his 2010 Asian Games gold medal the most. The all-rounder also enjoys volleyball when not playing kabaddi. And when not doing either, he enjoys travelling.

Puneri Paltan

Owner: Insurekot Sports

Coach: Ramphal Kaushik

Player to watch out for:

Wazir Singh (all rounder)

Wazir Singh, the youngest captain across the Pro Kabaddi League, began his love of kabaddi at an early age; winning his first professional championship at the age of seventeen years. The following year, he suffered a ligament rupture but recovered and came back to win 10 more national and international medals for the game.

Telugu Titans

Owner: Veera Sports

Coach: J Udayakumar

Player to watch out for:

Rajaguru Subramanian (defender)

It is still early days for this banker-turned-kabaddi player, in his short career he has made his way into five major teams, including Indias national side. His most memorable win came at the 2005 Junior Asian Championship, where he took home gold. Subramanian has a tally of six professional-level medals.