India's first professional kabaddi league, in which some well-known entrepreneurs have evinced interest as team owners, was on Friday launched with much fanfare at NSCI Sardar Vallabhai Patel Stadium in Worli in Mumbai.
The league, Pro Kabaddi, is a joint initiative of industrialist Anand Mahindra and sports commentator Charu Sharma through their firm Mashal Sports, and will feature eight city-based franchises who would play on a home and away basis, it was announced at the launch.
The matches, to be held in July-August, would be telecast live by Star Sports channel.
The league has the backing of the International Kabaddi Federation, Asian Kabaddi Federation and Amateur Kabaddi Federation of India. The promoters have roped in the Singapore-based World Sports Group to market the event.
Already pledging their support as team owners are leading entrepreneurs such as Ronnie Screwala, Rajesh Shah (Mukand Group) and Kishore Biyani, said a media release.
"Advanced discussions are on with other corporate giants such as GMR Group and Murugappa Group. With the world of sport inextricably linked with entertainment, there is also interest from major film personalities," the release added.
All matches would be played on specially developed mat in state of art indoor stadia across eight cities.
Ahead of the league's commencement, a players' auction featuring 72 Indian and 28 overseas players, including Pakistanis, would be held to help the franchies build their personnel.
The other foreign players are from Afghanistan, Iran, Bangladesh, Canada, England, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Nepal, Malaysia, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Turkmenistan, the release added.