Pakistan's Super Kabaddi League on the rise
The inaugural edition of the Super Kabaddi League has been earning rave reviews not just in Pakistan but all over Asia. It has been very successful in attracting the masses to a hugely popular sport in the country, with veteran international Pakistani player Nasir Ali who has played for more than 12 years and won three Asian Games medals, stating that he has never seen this kind of fanfare before for Kabaddi.
The Super Kabaddi League was launched as a counter-part of the Pro Kabaddi League which decided to not to allow Pakistani players from its fifth season onwards following instructions from the Indian Government. Moreover, Pakistan was left out in the 2016 Kabaddi World Cup held in India, which further added to the lack of action for the Pakistani Kabaddi players.
An Initiative from the Pakistan Kabaddi Federation, alongside Strawberry Sports Management, led to the genesis of the tournament which was played between 1 - 10 May 2018. Similar to the Pro Kabaddi League, the teams were city-based franchises who played matches in a single league basis followed by the knockout rounds the winners of which, played the final. The final was played out between Faisalabad Sherdils and the Gujarat Warriors, with the latter lifting the trophy with a 36-38 victory. Nasir Ali emerged as the player with the most raid points.
The Super Kabaddi League had ten teams with each franchise entitled to a roster of 12 players, which included two Platinum players, seven Gold players and one Foreign player. The low foreign participation in the league was justified by giving more opportunities to the local talent. The foreign players featuring in the Super Kabaddi League were from Iran, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Kenya and Iraq.
The tournament also featured two matches played exclusively between the women Kabaddi players in Pakistan.
With the emergence of the new league, Pakistani players have a platform to showcase their talents in their bid to restore Pakistan as one of the elites of the game. The league also helps in uncovering new young talent and offer a bigger pool of players to pick for the national team. The schedule of the tournament also made it perfect for the Pakistani players to prepare themselves for the 2018 Asian Games in Jakarta.
While the Pakistan kabaddi team has been making rapid progress in recent days which is evident from their recent victories over Iran at the 2017 Asian Cup. However, the SKL is a major milestone and will have a greater impact in the country and the popularity of the sport.