Kabaddi takes a major step in Europe with the inaugural British Kabaddi League (BKL) set to raid the Isles early next year.
Jointly hosted by the England Kabaddi Association and the Scottish Kabaddi Association, the BKL would be officially launched in January. The four-leg league is scheduled to start on February 26, 2022.
This will be the first time that such a league is taking place in Europe and is expected to feature players not only from Great Britain but also Europe and the rest of the world. Top players, who featured at the recent European championships in Cyprus are expected to feature prominently in the competition.
This will be the first time that a major kabaddi league is being held outside of the sport’s birthplace of India.
The League sanctioned by World Kabaddi will feature eight men’s teams in its first season.
The teams vying for the inaugural title include London Lions, Leicester Tigers, Birmingham Warriors, Wolverhampton Wolves, Walsall Kings, Manchester Raiders, Edinburgh Eagles and the British Army.
With Birmingham hosting the Commonwealth Games next year, kabaddi is also expected to get some much needed exposure with Birmingham not only fielding a team but also being chosen as venue for one of the BKL legs.
Kabaddi is not currently part of the Commonwealth Games, but hosting the league in Great Britain may help to open doors for future inclusion.
The final of the BKL Is expected to be held in Glasgow, Scotland in March. This will be the second major event to be hosted in Glasgow, having also hosted the inaugural European Championships in 2019.
Giving the BKL an added impetus is the decision by the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) to be an official partner of the event. The BBC is expected to televise all the league matches. Efforts are also ongoing to ensure that the BKL is also televised in other nations and regions including in India.
Player selections have already started with all eight teams currently on the lookout for talented British players with international selections to be decided later.
Both England and Scotland are also expected to use the league to select their respective national teams for the 2nd World Cup to be held in 2022.