Recognising talent identification and development as a key agenda, Mashal Sports Pvt. Ltd., the organisers and rights owners of the VIVO Pro Kabaddi League today announced the Future Kabaddi Heroes (FKH) programme 2019, a comprehensive talent scouting and development initiative to foster and nurture future Kabaddi champions. Initiated in 2017, the programme has been the pathway for young high potential kabaddi players to prove their mettle on the mat at VIVO PKL.
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Divided into 3 phases, the FKH programme in its first phase this year will be conducted across 11 cities, commencing on 05th February 2019 in Mumbai. The other locations would be Patna, Chandigarh, Chennai, Hyderabad, Delhi, Lucknow, Nagpur, Guwahati, Bangalore, Jaipur, and the Junior Nationals. The cities have been chosen basis expert assessment of Kabaddi talent identified in local tournaments held there in the past.
Last year the programme received an overwhelming response from over 3420 participants. Post a rigorous three-staged selection process, 85 players finally made it to the VIVO Pro Kabaddi 2018 auction pool. Through its prior two editions, the Future Kabaddi Heroes programme has brought to the forefront, young players, such as Nitesh Kumar (UP Yodha) – the Best Defender in VIVO Pro Kabaddi Season VI, the first defender in the history of the League to reach 100 tackle points in a single season, Naveen Kumar (Dabang Delhi) – the youngest player in Season VI, who is among the top 10 raiders of the season, Surender Singh (U Mumba) – among the top 10 defenders of the season, to name just a few.
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Launching the third edition of the programme, Anupam Goswami, League Commissioner, VIVO Pro Kabaddi League said, “With the FKH programme, our aim is to identify promising talent and build successive generations of higher quality Kabaddi players. This initiative has been very successful in each of its two editions so far, with aspirants being selected by the VIVO Pro Kabaddi franchises. Some of these young players have scaled significant heights in the League and we have witnessed some record breaking performances by these graduates of the program. This is a testament to the depth of Kabaddi talent in our country and the ability of the program to identify these new young heroes of the mat”
Commenting on the programme, Former Indian Captain, Arjun Awardee and Former VIVO Pro Kabaddi star, Anup Kumar, said, “This is a unique initiative that serves as a strong base for young Kabaddi players to move towards their dream of playing the sport at a professional level, and creates the opportunity for them to demonstrate their mettle at the biggest Kabaddi stage, the VIVO Pro Kabaddi League.”
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Talking about being an FKH graduate, Nitesh Kumar, Best Defender Vivo PKL Season VI said, “This is the only program of its kind that gives young players like myself the chance to develop into professional athletes for this great sport of ours. The selection is grueling and the training intense, but well-rounded and covers physical abilities, nutrition programs and game strategy. All of which are necessary to perform at VIVO Pro Kabaddi. The program pushes us to our limits, to be the best that we can be, and were it not for this program, I’m not sure whether I would have been given the opportunity to be a part of a great team like UP Yodha.”
Future Kabaddi Heroes Programme
Initiated in 2017, the Future Kabaddi Heroes programme is developed by Mashal Sports, the organisers of the VIVO Pro Kabaddi League, in association with AKFI (Amateur Kabaddi Federation of India) and its affiliate state Kabaddi federations to scout promising young Kabaddi talent in the age group of 18 to 22 from across thousands of aspirants all over the country.
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The players who make it through the first two stages of rigorous selection, then undergo intense training to further elevate their game to meet the intensity and demands of playing of the VIVO Pro Kabaddi League. FKH is the only such organised and professional scouting programme for Kabaddi players in the country. The programme will create a well-functioning machinery for overall identification and development of young Kabaddi talent in India, and provide a pathway for talent recognition.
Following a rigorous shortlisting process in Phase 1, players will be selected for Phase II where once again only the exceptional, highest potential players would make it to Phase III for the training and subsequently be drafted in the player auction pool of VIVO Pro Kabaddi Season 7 under the ‘New Young Players’ category.
The training phase follows a program structure developed in consultation with renowned coaches and experts from the field of sports. Along with professional coaches and specialist trainers, the training team also includes physiotherapists and nutritionists, to get the youngsters ready for the demanding requirements of the VIVO Pro Kabaddi League.
Expert Led Selection Panel
The judging and selection would be done by a team of leading Kabaddi experts across a wide range of parameters such as technical skills, positional play, supporting abilities, scoring rate, physical fitness and psychological fitness with weightage of the Kabaddi skills and physical fitness varying with each phase.
The expert panel for Phase 1 includes kabaddi greats such as
Srinivas Reddy – Coach – Korea Team Asian Games 2014, Australia Team 2016 World Cup, Kabaddi Masters Dubai 2018, India Women’s Kabaddi Team Asian Games 2018;
Pratap Shetty – Coach- Bharat Petroleum Kabaddi Team;
Ramesh Bhendigiri – Coach – Thailand Women’s Kabaddi Team, 2010 & 2014 Asian Games, Coach – India Women’s Team, 2012 World Cup;
Rakesh Kumar – Arjun Awardee Player, Asian Games Gold Medal – 2006, 2010, 2014;
Banani Saha – Coach India Women’s Kabaddi Team, Asian Games 2018;
K Bhaskaran – Gold Medal 1994 Asian Games, Captain India Kabaddi Team 1995 SAF Games, Coach India Kabaddi Team 2016 World Cup;
Chajuram – Coach Indonesia Kabaddi Team, Asian Games 2018;
Ratanlal Thakur – Coach, Himachal Pradesh Kabaddi Team