Less than a month before Pro Kabaddi League (PKL) returns to action with Season 10, we are psyched to look over our shoulders, to relive the journey so far. In its glorious decade, the league has witnessed some incredibly talented raiders who enthralled the spectators, showcasing their sheer quality on the mat. In this edition of the PKL MVP’s Special Memories series, Jaipur Pink Panthers fame Arjun Deshwal takes us through his experience in Indian kabaddi’s top echelon and what lies in its future.
“I feel thrilled to see the league reaching this milestone. The level of kabaddi has seen a great rise since PKL was first launched and it will keep rising in the future. I used to watch the matches in the initial seasons on TV and hoped that one day I would get to play at that level. I started practicing regularly and eventually got my dream breakthrough in PKL.”
Arjun Deshwal’s PKL journey began in 2018 with U Mumba where he played two seasons and then went on to be picked by Jaipur Pink Panthers ahead of the Season 8 auction for a staggering amount of ₹96 lakhs. Since then, the 24-year-old has been plying his trade with the Rajasthan-based franchise. “I was watching the auction and when I saw that I was being sold to Jaipur Pink Panthers for that amount, at first, I couldn’t believe it. When the reality kicked in, I was thrilled and so was everyone around me, my family and my friends.”
Recalling his best campaign so far, the raider stated, “It has to be the last season. I was adjudged the Best Raider as well as the Most Valuable Player (MVP) and our team also managed to clinch the trophy in the end.” Arjun ended up as the player with the highest raid points in Season 9 of the Pro Kabaddi League with 296 raid points in 24 matches for Jaipur Pink Panthers.
He further went on to mention how kabaddi players have found a platform to showcase their talent, especially the youngsters over the last 10 years of PKL. “Since the league has come in we have consistently gotten the opportunity year after year to play at the highest level. We have also gotten excellent training facilities over the seasons and I feel that has helped us a lot in improving our overall strength and the game.”
As Arjun heads into his sixth season of PKL, he reveals the targets he has set for himself and how he is preparing to achieve them. “I believe every player should set a target for the season to bring out the best of themselves. For me, I want to play the final and win the championship for my team once again. I would like to win the MVP award for the second time running too.”
The much-anticipated 10th season of PKL kicks off on 2nd December 2023 in Ahmedabad as the league returns to the original caravan format of all 12 cities.