Disconcerting as it may seem, the state of Gujarat does not boast of a single individual plying his trade professionally in the VIVO ProKabaddi League. This begs a series of questions. Is the indigenous game of kabaddi aspirational for the kids in the state? If not, how do we seed a kabaddi culture and get kids to dream of playing in the VIVO PKL someday? And who takes the responsibility to conceptualise and execute a grassroots initiative for talented children in Gujarat?
Proudly, the Gujarat Fortune Giants management took this task upon their shoulders, and “Little Giants” was their brainchild.
Objectives and Challenges
In our first season, we played out of our skin and finished as runners-up. Our debut season exploits on the mat went a long way in establishing a strong and loyal fanbase in the state. But, that wasn’t the end of the road. The next step was to develop a desire to play.
In order to create a sustainable environment of kabaddi in the state, it was important to get children to pick up the sport. Thus, a School Contact Programme was launched to trigger participation at a grassroot level. The objective was to provide a platform where children could gain exposure to kabaddi, learn and grow.
Little Giants Takes Shape
With the challenges and objectives laid out, a solution found its way. “Little Giants” - A state-wide inter-school kabaddi tournament.
In the first phase, over 400 schools were identified and approached. These were top-grade schools across four major cities in Gujarat with a strength of over 1000 students and prior participation in various sporting events and contests. The response was overwhelming to say the least! From each of these cities, Ahmedabad, Surat, Vadodara and Rajkot, the first 32 schools to register were selected. With 1500-plus players from 128 schools registered to participate, Little Giants was slowly turning into a massive celebration of kabaddi!
The tournament involved a series of knockout rounds, with the top four schools from each city heading to Ahmedabad for the final stages.
All this while, radio and social media was abuzz with the happenings of Little Giants. All 16 teams that made the final stages got to meet their favourite heroes from the Gujarat Fortune Giants. The fact that these matches were streamed LIVE on our official Facebook page added to the aspirational value.
In the end, the team from Gajera International School, Surat, were crowned champions!
The first edition of Little Giants was a massive hit, and the overwhelming participation numbers demonstrate the fact. A grassroots initiative is set. However, the goal is far from reached.
To make Gujarat a powerhouse of Indian kabaddi in the future, aspiration is key at the moment. For an impressionable and sportingly inclined kid, getting to interact with a professional athlete is the stuff of dreams. We hope that the finalists of “Little Giants” were inspired after picking the brains of the Gujarat Fortune Giants’ players and listening to their experiences.
The goal will be achieved when Gujarat can boast of some of the best talent in the VIVO PKL. For now, the state pins its hopes on the children who made their schools proud in Little Giants.