The last three editions of vivo Pro Kabaddi League have featured the rise of notable new talent. From Naveen Kumar turning into the Naveen Express, to Rohit Gulia becoming Gujarat Fortunegiants’ most dependable player, to Nitesh Kumar & Surinder Singh establishing themselves as fierce defenders in the league.
There’s one thing these rising stars have in common – Future Kabaddi Heroes. Each of them was discovered through the FKH programme initiated by Mashal Sports in 2017.
Naveen Express’ began his journey in Season 6, where he became the first player born in the 2000s to feature in vivo Pro Kabaddi. The training he received during the FKH programme resulted in him ending the campaign as top scorer for Dabang Delhi K.C, helping his team reach the playoffs.
But it was Season 7 that showed fans the real potential of this baby-faced assassin. He went on to have an incredible season with 303 points, scoring a Super 10 in 22 of the 23 matches he played. Even after stats like that to his name, Naveen still believes that the best is yet to come from him.
Another youngster who has consistently impressed is Rohit Gulia from Gujarat Fortunegiants. After a slow but consistent start in Seasons 5 & 6, in Season 7 he showed the world what he was capable of. Gulia had a whopping 142-point season and shouldered the responsibility of his team admirably.
As earlier mentioned, the FKH programme has also given rise to 2 of the most prolific defenders in the game. The first being Nitesh Kumar - the first, and only player to this date to score 100 tackle points in a single season. Nitesh was only playing in his second vivo Pro Kabaddi season when he set this impressive record.
The second defender is Surinder Singh, who under the guidance of some of the best defenders in his team became an immediate fan favourite. Fazel Atrachali and Sandeep Narwal can often be heard singing praises of his never-say-never attitude and willingness to take risks.
The FKH programme has delivered on its purpose. The hard work of the scouts and coaches can be seen by way of new and exciting talent on the mat every season. FKH’s primary objective is bridging the gap between grassroots kabaddi and vivo Pro Kabaddi League – providing a platform for young players to showcase themselves with the chance of rising to the top rung – just as Naveen, Rohit, Nitesh & Surinder have.