By: Pramod Thomas
THE British Kabaddi League has been launched in Wolverhampton to mark the prominent role of the Midlands in British Kabaddi, a statement said.
Eight teams including, Birmingham Bulls, Wolverhampton Wolfpack, Walsall Hunters and Leicester Warriors, alongside London Lions, Edinburgh Eagles, Glasgow Unicorns and Manchester Raiders will participate in the league which will be held from 9 April to 10 May.
Originated in India, Kabaddi is one of the fastest-growing sports in the world, and the second most popular sport in South Asia, after cricket.
The games will be played in Birmingham, Manchester, Glasgow and Wolverhampton, the statement added.
The league was established by English and Scottish Kabaddi, with support from the West Midlands Growth Company.
According to the statement, the league aims to engage and empower the five million British Asians in the UK, as well as promote physical activity and wellbeing amongst ethnically diverse communities.
Prem Singh, CEO of British Kabaddi, said: “We are delighted that so many people from different and diverse backgrounds have come together to present this amazing sports project. The BKL was created by the communities and will be used to promote positive community engagement and celebrate cultural diversity.”
The league has been supported by the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games Business and Tourism Programme (BATP). It follows the launch of the BATP’s Major Sporting Events Strategy, with objectives including the elevation of the West Midlands’ status as a nationally and internationally recognised host of major sporting events, the statement further said.
Nigel Huddleston, minister for sport and tourism, said: “We’re delighted to be joining other major nations in establishing our first, competitive Kabaddi league. This will build on the popularity of one of the world’s fastest-growing sports, which is already thriving in communities right across the UK.
“We hope this new league, backed by the Birmingham 2022 Business and Tourism Programme and launching in the host region for this summer’s Commonwealth Games, goes from strength to strength.”
In the past decade, many national and international Kabaddi leagues were established, such as the Pro Kabaddi League in India and the Kabaddi World Cup, which features top teams from India, the US, Canada, the UK and Australia.
Ashok Das, president of BKL and the World Kabaddi, said: “I have been involved with the sport of Kabaddi for over 40 years and our Kabaddi family of Kabaddi playing nations is now 50 strong. We have organised events all over the globe, but the BKL sets a benchmark for the new Kabaddi league outside of India. The BKL will further empower us to reach out and bring people together serving a common goal of promoting health and wellbeing.
“We as an organisation thank the BBC for giving us the opportunity to contribute, we have managed to get here today due to a dedicated group of amateur people who are passionate about sport and their communities.”
Birmingham and the West Midlands will host the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games between 28 July and 8 August – the second-largest sporting event ever hosted in the UK after the 2012 London Olympics.
Neil Rami, chief executive of West Midlands Growth Company, said: “The inaugural British Kabaddi League is a tangible legacy outcome of the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games Business and Tourism Programme, reflecting the Programme’s aims to cement a shared economic and cultural vision with Commonwealth nations.”