LAHORE - Indian Minister for Rural Development and Panchayats Sikander Singh Behniwal has said that the World Kabbadi League (WKL) would play a significant role for the financial benefit of the kabaddi players of the region.

“The cricketers have been minting hefty amounts through various cricket but now it is my promise that we will make kabaddi and it leagues so popular that our players will start earning more money than cricketers,” said Singh while speaking at the press briefing here at the National Hockey Stadium on Wednesday along with Punjab Sports and Law Minister Rana Mashood Ahmad Khan. Director General Sports Board Punjab (SBP) Usman Anwar and Punjab Kabaddi Association (PKA) president Shahid Iqbal Dar were also present there.

Earlier, Director Sports SBP Jalil Ahmed Chohan, Assistant Director Waqas Akbar and Pakistan Kabaddi Federation (PKF) officials warmly welcomed the two-member Indian delegation here at Wahga Border.

Singh said that kabaddi was a mother sport of Indo-Pak region and the leadership of both Indian and Pakistani Punjabs had been playing pivotal role in giving a new life to kabaddi in the region. “The proof of kabaddi popularity is that it has now been played in more than 30 countries of the world and four kabaddi world cup events have been staged so far. We are also trying to expand our circle to include more countries in our events,” he said and added: “The growing kabaddi ties between the two neighbouring playing a significant role in strengthening their relation.”

Senior Advisor to Chief Minister Puneet Singh Chandhok, who was the second member of Indian delegation, said that the matches of world kabaddi league would be played on every Saturday and Sunday from August 9 turn-by-turn in all the five hosting nations. “The final of the grand kabaddi event will likely to be held in December 2014 at Mohali, India,” he added.

Punjab Sports Minister Rana Mashhood said that the world kabaddi league would roll into action in London from August 9 with eight teams to vie for top honours. “The matches of the event will be played in five countries i.e. Pakistan, India, United States, England and Canada.”

To a query regarding the possibility of kabaddi diplomacy between Pakistan and India, Mashhood replied that the kabaddi diplomacy had already been started between the two neighbouring countries to ease any kind of tension.

To another query regarding Pakistan team’s preparation for the mega event, he said that Pakistan’s team Lahore Lions would comprise of top players of the country. “As our players have been featuring in various international kabaddi leagues, they have been gaining much-needed international exposure and they are fully well trained and fully ready to take on any given opponent. I hope they will play with their potential and try to earn laurels for the country with their exceptional performances.”

Replying to another query, he stated that Pakistan had earned a respectable place in world kabaddi in a short span of time. “India has been playing top level kabaddi for the last eight years but we have started giving attention to this game in last one or two years. But our kabaddi players played exceptionally in Kabaddi World Cup and Indo-Pak Punjab Games and I hope they will do wonders in future,” he concluded.