The chances of an indigenous sport taking the country by storm were quite low when Pro Kabaddi League started a decade ago but after a decade and 1000 matches, it is safe to say that the sport of Kabaddi has made its way into the hearts of Indian sports fans.
The league has received unwavering support from Indian fans and is the second-most-watched franchise league in the country after the Indian Premier League.
PKL has not only brought Kabaddi to the forefront but also changed the lives of all the stakeholders involved in the league from players to coaches to the officials.
The league felicitated the early flagbearers of the sports - Anup Kumar, Dharmaraj Cheralathan, Ajay Thakur, Manjeet Chhillar, and Rishank Devadiga - ahead of the landmark 1000th match in Jaipur
When asked about the journey of PKL from Match 1 to Match 1000, Dharmaraj said, "The Pro Kabaddi League's journey has been magnificent. Many lives have changed because of the league and many lives will change in the future as well. I hope that the players become even more fitter in the future and have very long careers."
The league managed to propel the likes of Anup Kumar, Rahul Chaudhary, Ajay Thakur, and Manjeet Chillar to stardom and created future superstars in Pardeep Narwal, Naveen Kumar, Pawan Sehrwat, and Maninder Singh.
Rishank Devadiga expressed his excitement about PKL reaching the 1000th match milestone.
"I am really happy to see that the Pro Kabaddi League has reached its 1000th match. The game has grown leaps and bounds through PKL over the last ten seasons. It's been nice to be on the journey with PKL right from Season 1," said Rishank.
The league saw its impact transcending across the world with Iran becoming a formidable force in the sport and the likes of Fazel Atrachali, Meraj Sheikh, and Md Shadlu making their way into the hearts of the Indian fans.
Bengal Warriors' captain Maninder Singh, who was part of the first-ever PKL match between U Mumba and Jaipur Pink Panthers and is set to play the 1000th match, said, "It feels great that I am part of the 1000th PKL match. I played for Jaipur in the first match and now the 1000th match will be held in Jaipur, so what could be better than that."
Meanwhile, one of the earliest superstars of the league and still in action, raider Rahul Chaudhari said, "The 1000th PKL match is a proud moment for all kabaddi lovers. I wish that the game becomes even more popular in the upcoming years and nobody should ask 'What is kabaddi'. Today the kabaddi players are recognized anywhere they go and this has been possible only because of the Pro Kabaddi League."
With a dedicated fan base, PKL will look to grow more by reaching out to more global audiences and creating more superstars in the future.