CHENNAI: ConsideringTamil Nadu’s historic and rich connection with kabaddi, the lack of a team from the state in the cash-rich Pro Kabaddi League was a surprise. However, as Express reported in January, Tamil Nadu is finally getting one. Three other teams will feature for the first time in the fifth edition — Uttar Pradesh, Haryana and Gujarat — with the third state having hosted the Kabaddi World Cup last year in Ahmedabad. PKL already has a number of players from the land of temples, with Dharmaraj Cheralathan of Patna Pirates being the most familiar of them.
Now, a chance to play for their home team will be exciting, considering the huge fan base for the sport. “I’m pleased to see TN (Chennai) getting a team. What I can say now is that Chennai and TN have a massive following and interest. I hope we have wonderful owners,” said Charu Sharma, the brains behind the league.
With additional teams, the question of auction comes into play, as most star players are already playing for existing teams. Though a full auction is not an option, there are plans to maintain fairness. “There will not be a complete auction, so as to ensure continuity for existing teams. However, enough players will be in the pool to ensure the four new franchises get an opportunity to build a decent team.”
An auction date has not yet been set but this newspaper has learnt that it will be held in May. According to a source, there will be sufficient time between the auction and opener, as it gives existing teams time to build proper chemistry among players and a fair chance when the league begins.
The other development is that after having two seasons in 2016, the league will go for one big season this year. If sources are to be believed, it is slotted to start sometime in July and end September, before the beginning of the FIFA U-17 World Cup.