It's been exactly nine years since the Jaipur Pink Panthers and U Mumba teams walked out on the mat to play the first-ever Pro Kabaddi League match in Mumbai. Nine seasons on, the Pro Kabaddi League has gone on to become the second-biggest sporting league in India. Fans across India can relive the moments from the first ever PKL season through a special show - The Rise of Kabaddi, that will be telecast on Star Sports 1 Hindi & Star Sports 2 on Pro Kabaddi League's birthday - 26 July 2023 at 10 AM, 2 PM & 7 PM.
Reminiscing the first-ever PKL match, the Most Valuable Player Award winner in Season 1 and U Mumba captain Anup Kumar expressed, "We were quite nervous just before the game started. We had never played on such a platform before. It was a different environment for us. We were playing under lights and in front of a big crowd for the first time. But we got used to the environment by the end of the first half of the opening game. We also carried out 30-second raids for the first time. I remember forgetting to focus on the timer because we didn't have timed raids before."
Meanwhile, Rishank Devadiga, who played in the first-ever PKL match along with Anup Kumar, spoke about his favourite memory from Season 1, "The first match was very exciting for us. Walking out through the tunnel to play the opening game is my favourite memory from Season 1. We were ready to play the beautiful game of kabaddi in front of everyone in the stadium."
The Pro Kabaddi League has seen numerous landmark moments on and off the field since the opener on 26 July 2014. The addition of four teams in Season 5 signified the huge growth in the number of kabaddi players around the country in the first four seasons and Tamil Thalaivas' record-breaking bid of INR 2.26 crore for Pawan Sehrawat in the PKL 2022 Auction showcased the sharp rise in the players' financial valuation over the years.
Following the tremendous highs in the last nine seasons, the organisers are all set to conduct the landmark tenth season this year. PKL legend Ajay Thakur, who scored 794 raid points in 120 matches, shared his excitement about the milestone season, "I cannot tell you how happy I am to see the way kabaddi has grown in the last nine years. It will be an incredible feat for the league when it completes ten seasons this year. The league has transformed the way the game is played and the players' lives. Ten years ago, we couldn't have imagined that kabaddi players would be recognised around the country. Hats off to PKL."
The Pro Kabaddi League players are eager to celebrate the tenth season with the fans through stupendous performances later this year.