The Kabaddi World Cup is all set to begin in Ahmedabad on Friday, with organisers and players of competing countries expressing confidence of taking the game to new heights of popularity across the globe.
Addressing the media at a pre-event press conference, International Kabaddi Federation chief Deoraj Chaturvedi said that 12 out of 32 Kabaddi playing countries will participate in the fortnight-long tournament, which will be concluding on October 22.
The begins on Friday at a new multi-purpose stadium, TransStadia, built in Ahmedabad under a public private partnership.
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“Twelve wonderful teams from five Olympic geographies will clash with each other. Another big milestone is that it will be played at a World Cup facilitated stadium TransStadia here, which has come up here in such a short time,” he said.
“Kabaddi is our (India’s) own game and I take that today it is played in 32 countries, out of which 12 countries are participating,” he said.
The 12 participating teams are India, USA (rpt USA), England, Australia, Iran, Poland, Thailand, Bangladesh, South Korea, Japan, Argentina, and Kenya.
The tournament, being organised by the International Kabaddi Federation, will be broadcast live in 120-odd countries by Star Sports, which will be a first for a kabaddi tournament, Chaturvedi said.
“It is for the first time that kabaddi will be showcased and exposed to the world, and I am sure this World Cup will create a history and will help us promoting the game throughout the world,” he said.
Twelve teams have been divided into two pools of six teams each with inaugural matches being played tomorrow between India and South Korea, and United States and Iran.
Speaking about the tournament, India team captain Anup Kumar accepted that there is pressure due to the presence of world’s best teams.
“It is a big tournament and all teams are very good, some teams are new and playing with them will be a new experience, and I believe there is pressure. Our only target is to keep the trophy in the country,” he said.
Speaking at the press conference, Anupam Goswami, head of kabaddi at Star Sports, said that the World Cup will further popularise the game across the world, after a successful show of Pro-Kabaddi League.
“We strongly believe that in one of these days we will see India as a powerhouse of sports beyond cricket. Pro Kabaddi League is the second most viewed league after IPL, and we will expand it further in the coming years,” he said.
“We hope to make as much an impact for Kabaddi across the world by this tournament as we did for the country with with pro Kabaddi,” he added.