Hyderabad: Nowadays, if an athlete states that he is playing professional sport at a league like the vivo Pro Kabaddi league; he is treated with respect and adulation. Only over a decade ago, the same athlete would be questioned about what they would need to do as a serious profession since playing the sport would not be considered as a viable option.
This is the role broadcast and digital media can play to take sport and put it across to an audience to make it aspirational, make stars out of athletes and in-turn grow the sports ecosystem.
The overall commercial viability of sports worldwide has had broadcast play a critical role to build mass brands, bring in sponsors and develop a successful model for sports to thrive tricking down as measurable benefit to the athletes and growth of our sporting talent pool.
Anupam Goswami, Head Sports Leagues, Mashal Sports and League Commissioner, vivo Pro Kabaddi League said, “The sports ecosystem consists of different elements that draw from each other. Our ecosystem for vivo Pro Kabaddi has four constituents on a league level. The most important role of a broadcaster is bringing the fan to the core of this eco system. There is no sport without consumers and fans. What we do to engage with the fans, is ensure the quality of competition is at a benchmark level.
One of the reasons of vivo Pro Kabaddi’s success is that we are the highest level of Kabaddi in the world. Once we get competition of this order, we naturally attract athletes of the highest quality. Every kabaddi player in the world wants to play in the league. Regularly the highest paid athlete outside cricket, is from vivo Pro Kabaddi.”
He further added, “What works well at vivo Pro Kabaddi is our athlete development program. Our broadcasters create heroes. Sequentially it inspires the next generation of fans to take to the sport and it convinces parents to invest in their child’s future in sport. Once we have high quality competition, we need financial and institutional sustainability and as well as good governance. All this builds our ecosystem and gives a strong leeway to grassroots initiatives. Kabaddi academies, across large belts of India are rapidly developing with children joining from a young age.
There is a growing proliferation of kabaddi tournaments across the grassroots which is a healthy sign. Engagement of spectators and fans has also grown drastically. All this contributes towards the growth of the sport both in the domestic and international arena.”
Pawan Sehrawat said, “People know kabaddi now thanks to how it has adapted to be seen and loved by many. This was a sport played on mud first, now vivo PKL has taken the game to another level. With the sport being on broadcast, players like me are getting financially independent, recognised, our fitness levels are growing due to the nature of the sport and league. Our motivation is to do well season to season at the league.
Kabaddi has been a sport everyone has played but to think that for this sport to make an athlete economically independent has been made possible through the vivo Pro Kabaddi League. Players are now getting a chance to work with brands. Small children are now joining academies across the country. The league has played a big role in showcasing the sport in this way and in turn taking it from the roots of India and growing it worldwide.”
“Playing Kabaddi has now become an accepted profession and when I say I play at the vivo Pro Kabaddi League I feel proud,” Pawan concluded.