Kabaddi targets Olympic berth

Pro league's success prompts federation to take concrete steps

Kabaddi targets Olympic berth

The success of Pro-Kabaddi League has bolstered the attempts of national federation to organise a World Championship besides renewing its dream of achieving an Olympic status for the sport.

The rising popularity of the game in the first two editions has also spurred the organisers to have the league twice this year. The first leg would be beginning from January 30 at Vizag with capital’s Thyagaraj indoor stadium hosting the semifinals and final on March 4 and 5. Since its inception the league has attracted steady increase in its viewership and the organisers narrate reams of stories about its success. 

“I had seen the people in our country playing foreign sports but not the other way round. I know how we had struggled to bring Kabaddi first to the SAFF Games and then Asian Games. After the success of Pro-Kabaddi league we have been getting calls from various countries to arrange for kabaddi coaches. To be recognised as Olympic sport, you need the sport to be played in 50 countries. As of now we have 31 nations playing kabaddi,” said Janardhan Gehlot, president of International Kabaddi Federation.

“It, therefore, is a long process which requires natives picking up the sport besides getting the recognition from their respective national sports federation and national Olympic committees. That is why we are committed to popularise kabaddi around the word and towards that, we are planning to organise World Championship for both men and women alternately each year. It can take place even outside India.”

Abhishek Bachchan, owner of Jaipur Pink Panthers, the winners of the inaugural season, is even mulling a kabaddi league of women. “I definitely have a desire to float a league of women kabaddi players. I have watched women’s kabaddi matches and they are equally exciting and thrilling to watch,” he said.

 Anup Kumar, captain of defending champions U Mumba, was looking forward to the new season.  “The league has given us the recognition we had never experienced before. Today people know us, which is an incredible feeling. I have seen children even in upscale areas playing kabaddi which goes on to show how popular the sport is becoming in the country,” Anup said.

“We are the defending cha­mpions, we are working hard in training, so there is no pressure. We are waiting for the league to start and will be approaching it with a free mind.”

The upcoming season will include 26 international players from 11 nations Kenya, Japan, Oman, Thailand, Indonesia and Poland.

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