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Future kabaddi heroes programme to unearth kabaddi talent across country

The success of the VIVO Pro Kabaddi League in modern India portrays the spirit of confidence of the country in Kabaddi as a viable career avenue for aspiring talent. In line with this, Mashal Sports, the organisers of VIVO Pro Kabaddi League and AKFI jointly announced the Future Kabaddi Heroes (FKH) programme, a comprehensive talent scouting and development initiative to foster and nurture future Kabaddi champions. In its first leg, the programme this year will be conducted across 18 cities, starting with Mumbai on 26th February 2018, followed by Chennai, Coimbatore, Nagpur, Thrissur, Chandigarh, Bengaluru, New Delhi, Lucknow, Vishakhapatnam, Patna, Hyderabad, Kolkata, Indore, Imphal, Jaipur, Bhubaneshwar and Ahmedabad to identify the Kabaddi talent that the country has to offer. The cities have been chosen basis expert assessment of Kabaddi talent spotted in local tournaments held there in the past. The Phase I of this programme would be conducted over 2-3 days per city.

Talent identification and development has been a crucial agenda, given the potential witnessed from every corner of the country during the inaugural edition of the programme in 2017. Initiated last year as a pathway to the auction pool in VIVO Pro Kabaddi Season 5, the Future Kabaddi Heroes programme scouts promising young talent from thousands of aspirants from all over the country. Last year the programme received an overwhelming response from over 4600 participants. Post a rigorous three-staged selection process, 133 players finally made it to the VIVO Pro Kabaddi 2017 auction pool.

Launching the programme, Anupam Goswami, League Commissioner, VIVO Pro Kabaddi League said, “With the Future Kabaddi Heroes Programme, our aim is to identify promising talent and build successive generations of higher quality Kabaddi players. This initiative worked wonderfully for us in 2017 with the young aspirants being selected by franchise teams. This year, we increase the reach of the programme by adding geographies in consultation with the AKFI and Kabaddi state federations. The new cities include Imphal, Thrissur, Bhubaneshwar, Ahmedabad and Patna. It is our constant endeavour to improve the level of performance and competition in the VIVO Pro Kabaddi League, and this infusion of fresh talent adds the necessary impetus.”

Janardan Singh Gehlot, President, International Kabaddi Federation said,

“Kabaddi is a true grassroots sport in India and there is no dearth of young talent in the country. This programme is a platform for these youngsters to showcase and hone their skills for a successful career in Kabaddi. As opportunities in the field of professional Kabaddi increase, what was missing so far was an organised, rigorous scouting and training programme. Addressing this need, AKFI and Mashal Sports with the help of the state federations, have put this initiative together.”

Commenting on the programme, former Indian Captain and VIVO Pro Kabaddi star, Anup Kumar, said,

“I personally see the Future Kabaddi Heroes programme as an ideal platform that will take young aspirants much closer to their dream of playing professional Kabaddi. In my time, I wish we had the support of a platform like FKH programme. It is an ideal opportunity for deserving candidates who lack access and the support system to demonstrate their potential and eventually have the chance to be recognized in the VIVO Pro Kabaddi League.”

About the Programme

Initiated in 2017, the Future Kabaddi Heroes programme is developed by AKFI and Mashal Sports, the organisers of the VIVO Pro Kabaddi League, in association with Kabaddi state federations to scout promising young Kabaddi talent in the age group of 18 to 22 from across thousands of aspirants all over the country.  These players then undergo extensive training to further elevate their game to meet the intensity and expectations of playing in a professional Kabaddi league. FKH is the only such professional scouting and training programme for Kabaddi players in the country. The programme will create a well-functioning machinery for overall identification and development of young Kabaddi talent in India, by providing an ecosystem for the game and pathway for talent to flourish.

During VIVO Pro Kabaddi Season 5, young talent proved their mettle on the mat with the likes of Nitesh Kumar, Surinder Singh and Rohit Gulia playing a critical role in charting a successful season for their respective franchises. Last year, over 133 number of participants emerged from the selection process to be part of the auction pool. Out of these 55 were selected by the franchises to play for their team during Season 5, one even made it to the top 10 defenders for the season.

Shortlisting Process

Following a rigorous shortlisting process, a total of over 200-220 players will be selected for Phase II and out of those, exceptional 80-100 players will be chosen for Phase III for a month long intensive training camp and subsequently be drafted in the player auction pool of VIVO Pro Kabaddi Season 6 under the ‘New Young Players’ category. The camp will follow a designed module created in consultation with renowned coaches and experts from the field of sports. Along with professional coaches and specialist trainers, the team will also include physiotherapists and nutritionists, who will add value in terms of getting the youngsters ready for the rigours requirements of professional Kabaddi.

Expert Led Selection Panel

The judging and selection would be done by a team of leading Kabaddi experts across a wide range of parameters such as technical skills, positional play, supporting abilities, scoring rate, physical fitness and psychological fitness with weightage of the Kabaddi skills and physical fitness varying with each phase. The expert panel tasked with scouting the best of Kabaddi talent from across India includes Srinivas Reddy, Coach of Team Korea in 2014 Asian Games, Assistant coach of Haryana Steelers in VIVO ProKabaddi League Season V; Jaivir Sharma, Senior Coach with SAI, Coach of India Women’s team at the recently concluded Asian Championships in Iran; Rambir Khokhar, Retired Coach from SAI. Coach of Team India in Kabaddi’s first appearance in Asian Games in 1990; Manpreet Singh, Asian Games gold medallist in 2002 and 2006 as a player, Captain of Patna Pirates in ProKabaddi League Season III, Coach of Gujarat Fortunegiants in VIVO ProKabaddi League Season V; Ram Mehar Singh – Asian Games gold medallist 2002 as a player, Coach of Patna Pirates in VIVO Pro Kabaddi League Season V, Coach of Services team in domestic circuit.

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