A new British Kabaddi League has been launched in the UK, with tournaments staged in major cities including Birmingham, Manchester, Glasgow and Wolverhampton between 9 April and 10 May.
Bringing together professionals from one of the fastest-growing sports in the world, the League was
launched in the city of Wolverhampton to mark the prominent role of the Midlands in British Kabaddi, with the eight competing teams including, Birmingham Bulls, Wolverhampton Wolfpack, Walsall Hunters and Leicester Warriors, alongside London Lions, Edinburgh Eagles, Glasgow Unicorns and Manchester Raiders.
The League has been established by English and Scottish Kabaddi, with support from the West Midlands Growth Company – the region’s economic development agency. Kabaddi, a contact team sport originating from India, is one of the fastest-growing sports in the world, and the second most popular sport in South Asia, following cricket.
In the past decade, a range of national and international Kabaddi leagues have established rising in
popularity, 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 compete to be crowned world champions.
Building on the popularity of the sport across the world, the league aims to engage and empower the five million people of British Asian heritage in the UK, as well as promote physical activity and well being among ethnically diverse communities.
The establishment of the league has been supported by the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games Business and Tourism Programme (BATP), which aims to capitalise on the Games to create a long-term economic legacy in the West Midlands and wider UK, bolstering trade and tourism links across the Commonwealth nations.
The arrival of the British Kabaddi League follows the launch of the BATP’s Major Sporting Events
Strategy, where objectives include the elevation of the West Midlands’ status as a nationally and
internationally recognised host of major sporting events.
Birmingham and the West Midlands has a proud and extensive history of hosting international sporting events, including the IAAF World Indoor Athletics Championships, the World Gymnastics Championships, the Cricket World Cup, and the Ashes. This year, the region will host the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games between 28 July and 8 August - the second-largest sporting event ever hosted in the UK behind the 2012 London Olympics.
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.”
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.”
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. It shows our Major Sporting Events strategy in action, highlighting the West Midlands’ reputation as a destination for sporting excellence.”
The BBC will be broadcasting the tournament on BBC iPlayer, BBC Three and BBC Asian Network. The first broadcast of the British Kabaddi League will be broadcast live on BBC iPlayer on 9 April.