PUNE: AS many as 14 foreign players from different countries attended the opening ceremony of the first Indo-International Premier Kabaddi League (IPKL) at the Shree Chhatrapati Shivaji Sports Complex in Pune on Monday.
They watched hosts Pune Pride beating Haryana Heroes 43-34 in the opening match from the sidelines. And the routine might continue till their stay in the country as instead of taking the field to showcase their talent, these foreigners could only turn into spectators for the league.
The New Kabaddi Federation (NKF) apparently started the league in a hurry to cash on the growing popularity of kabaddi. Kick-starting the league at such a short notice meant these foreigners failed to obtain work visas and were made to travel to India on tourist visas, rendering them ineligible to play the league and earn salaries by signing contracts with various franchises as professionals.
These players were introduced to the spectators on Monday. The organisers also said that these foreigners will play an exhibition match in Pune on Tuesday.
Ravi Kiran, director IPKL, hesitatingly admitted that the organisers experienced delays in obtaining requisite approvals from local authorities due to which foreign players failed to secure work visas.
“Elections led to the delay. Approvals from local authorities in the respective cities for which these foreigners were scheduled to play couldn’t be obtained in time as the state government officers were busy in general election. This delayed the whole process,” Ravi Kiran told TNIE.
Meanwhile, the inaugural edition of the IPKL was declared open by MV Prasad Babu, NKF secretary general, at a glittering ceremony at the Shree Chhatrapati Shivaji Sports Complex on Monday.
For the next one week, Pune will play host to 20 more games before the IIPKL caravan proceeds to Mysore and then to Bengaluru for the final leg.
Eight franchisees will be vying for the title along with a total prize purse of `4 crore over a period of 23 days.
Ex-MCA secy team owner
Former Mumbai Cricket Association PV Shetty is the co-owner of Mumbai Che Raje, one of the eight franchises in the IPKL. The ex-member of the IPL governing council owns 22 cricket clubs registered with the MCA. Renowned players like Rohit Sharma, Shardul Thakur, spinner Harmeet Singh and women’s international Pooam Raut have played for his clubs.
“My friend MV Prasad Babu, who is secretary general of NKFI, urged me to promote the game. It will benefit players, coaches and other support staff,” Shetty said.
Today’s matches: Pondicherry Predators vs Bangalore Rhinos: 8-9pm; Diler Delhi vs Chennai Challengers: 9-10pm; Mumbai Che Raje vs Telugu Bulls: 10-11pm. Live on DSPORT