Mumbai, May 26: Indian Premier League (IPL) may have lost some of its lustre but the Twenty20 tournament's overall success has inspired other sports to launch similar leagues and kabaddi is the latest to jump on the bandwagon.
After the International Hockey Federation announced plans of a professional league modelled on the IPL earlier this month, the governing body of the team contact sport in India has launched its own version called the Kabaddi Premier League.
The IPL, currently in its fourth season, has struggled to sustain the momentum it enjoyed when it was launched with TV ratings plummeting as franchises struggle to make profits on their investments.
However, that negativity has not deterred the Amateur Kabaddi Federation of India (AKFI) from announcing a tournament which will feature eight franchises and will be staged from June 8-16 at Vijayawada in the state of Andhra Pradesh.
“Actually we had thoughts about organising a tournament like this before cricket. But looking at the success of the IPL, we decided it was time,” AKFI secretary K. Jagadishwar Yadav said. “Each team will be allowed four foreign players and it will popularise the game even more in the country.”
The winners will receive prize money of one million rupees while the runner-up will pocket half the amount. Kabaddi, which requires no sophisticated equipment, is hugely popular in South Asia and was included in the 1990 Asian Games in Beijing for the first time as a regular discipline.
India has won all six gold medals in the Asian Games since its introduction and also won the women's event in the 2010 Guangzhou Games, where it was played for the first time.
“Our ultimate aim is to introduce this game into Olympics. We are moving in that direction as we have managed to get it into the Asian Games,” Yadav said.“We are confident that we will present the country with the first Olympic Kabaddi gold medal if we are successful in getting it in.”