In a significant move for women’s sports in India, Star India, the official broadcaster of the Pro Kabaddi League (PKL), announced the launch of The Women’s Kabaddi Challenge on June 28, an initiative by the Amateur Kabaddi Federation of India (AKFI) in association with Mashal Sports. Having popularised and monetised the game on television, the network now aims to get things going for the women’s Kabbadi. With the tagline “Cross The Line”, there is significant effort to market the women’s league in a big way. This is to highlight Star’s efforts to bring women’s kabaddi into the spotlight.
Mr Janardan Singh Gehlot, president, International Kabaddi Federation, said, “With Star Sports Pro Kabaddi carving a niche in the sports arena, we felt the need to create the same opportunity for our talented women kabaddi players. We have handpicked best of the players across regions to form these three teams. This will bring tremendous benefits not only to women’s kabaddi but to women’s sports in India.” Anupam Goswami, league commissioner, PKL, added, “Women’s Kabaddi Challenge is a manifestation of the journey that women have undertaken in all walks of our national life. We applaud the fact that women regularly challenge gender stereotypes in our society. Come June 28, this is where Women will #Crosstheline in Kabaddi.”
As of now, there is a plan of starting up a full-scale women’s league that will mirror the men’s edition. “That plan is a bit in the pipeline as of now, and we haven’t given it a deadline as such. What we’re doing at the moment is a sort of season teaser for the women’s league. It’s more in a preliminary nature,” mentions Charu Sharma, managing director of the tournament’s organizing team.
There will be three teams — Fire Birds captained by Mamtha Poojari, Ice Divas captained by Abhilasha Mhatre, and Storm Queens captained by Tejeswini Bai. Women’s matches will be telecast at 9 pm and the first match will be played on June 28 at the Dome in the Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel stadium in Mumbai. The finals set to be hosted alongside the men’s Pro Kabaddi Finals on July 31 at Hyderabad. The women will be competing on the same sized mats as the men, but will have 30-minute matches, with two halves, instead of the 40-minute format for men.
As strong advocates of equal rights and opportunities for women, Centre for Social Research appreciates this move wholeheartedly. Women’s sports is a neglected area world over, and particularly in India, where women are yet to achieve equal status in many areas. Through our blogs, we have highlighted this issue time and again. We have earlier written on the issue of equal pay for women in sports, and how India still doesn’t give central contracts to the women’s cricket team. Efforts such as women’s kabaddi league, will definitely enhance the quality of women’s sports in India, and the catapulting of women kabaddi players on primetime television, will definitely work to serve as an inspiration to girls all over. So come June 28th, we will be glued to the television to support our women- how about you?
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