From fronting ‘save our tigers’ campaign to being Unicef’s brand ambassador against polio, Bollywood megastar ‘Big B’ has lent his name to a variety of social causes.
But how many of us know the 71 year old actor and TV personality to be a ‘patron’ of kabaddi, one of only a very few sports we Indian still excel in? Well, he is, sort of.
When the auction of players for the 4th edition of the Kabaddi Premier League (KPL) gets underway here next week, one of the franchisees bidding for players will be AB Corp, founded by one Amitabh Harivansh Rai Bachchan aka Big B!
This was confirmed here on Saturday by Kumar Vijay, joint secretary of the Amateur Kabaddi Federation of India (AKFI), who doubles as secretary of the Bihar state kabaddi association.
“The auction of players for the KPL will take place during the 61st senior national men’s and women’s kabaddi championships to be held at the Patliputra sports complex here from January 21 to 24”, Vijay told HT.
The AKFI joint secretary said this would be the first occasion since the KPL began in 2011 that players would be up for auction, on the lines of the cricket’s Indian premier league (IPL).
“Apart from AB Corp, leading companies like Mahindra and Mahindra, ONGC, Air India and some top companies from the insurance sectors will be in the fray for bidding as franchisees”, he said.
International kabaddi federation president Janardan Singh Gehlot and AKFI president Mridul Bhadauria will jointly announce the bidding process and the schedule for KPL-4, during the nationals in Patna.
Vijay said eight cities, namely, Hyderabad, Bangalore, Delhi, Chennai, Mumbai, Jaipur, Bhopal and Patna were the most likely venues for the KPL. In earlier editions of KPL, all the matches were held at a single venue.
He said eight teams, 12 players in each side, would compete in the KPL-4. Each team would have the choice of selecting two foreign and four international players. Each franchisee will have to select its remaining six players from the state teams.
Again, much like the vastly popular IPL, all the KPL matches will be played on synthetic turf and under floodlights.
About the bidding process, Vijay said this time there was no limit to the amount a franchisee could bid for top kabaddi players. In the last three editions, there was a fixed amount of Rs. 3 lakh for each player.
“This time the minimum bidding amount is Rs. 3 lakh”, he added.
The inclusion of women teams in the KPL, for the first time, would “add charm” to this tournament this year, Vijay said.
“AB Corp’s new-found love for kabaddi will lend spark to the forthcoming nationals”, said former international kabaddi player Rajiv Kumar Singh, who represented India at Doha Asian games.