Mulleriya (Kasaragod): The border town in Kerala is all set to turn the kabaddi capital of India just ahead of the Pro Kabaddi League team selection. Star raiders including Jasvir Singh, Rahul Chaudhari and local lad Sagar B Krishna will descent on Poovadukka to participate in the All-India A Grade Kabaddi Championship starting Sunday.
As many as 12 major teams will vie for the trophy in the tournament organized by the Tulunad Kabaddi Academy in association with the National Amateur Kabaddi Federation. Kasaragod MP P Karunakaran will inaugurate the tournament at 6.00 pm.
The league matches will go on until April 4, followed by quarter finalmatches on April 5. The tournament will end on April 6 with the semifinals and the final. The semifinal and final matches will be telecast on Star Sports. The sports channel’s production manager Siddharth Sharma visited the court on Friday to oversee the arrangements. CEO Nitin Kukreja is expected to be among the VIP audience.
The Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC), the Bharat Petroleum Corporation Limited (BPCL), Air India, Hitech Chennai, Bengaluru Postal, Indian Army Bhopal, Indian Army Nashik, Central Railway, Vijaya Bank, Mahindra & Mahindra, Indian Navy and Kerala state team will lock horns for the title.
The ONCG team will be led by Jasvir Singh, a member of the national team and the captain of the Jaipur Pink Panthers. He will face his Pink Panthers colleagues including Rajesh Narwal and Parveen Narwal as well as Puneri Paltan raider Ajay Thakur and Telugu Titans captain Rahul Chaudhari.
The tournament has come under the radar of the Pro Kabaddi League team selectors. Representatives of the franchises are expected to arrive at Poovadukka to watch the matches. U Mumba CEO Supratik Sen, Puneri Paltan CEO Kailas, coach K Baskaran and National Amateur Kabaddi Federation convener Vishwas Mehta have confirmed their attendance. Organizers expect more headhunters to come in the coming days.
Elaborate arrangements have been prepared for the flawless conduct of the matches. The panchayat stadium has got a facelift to host the high-profile tournament. About 6,000 spectators can be accommodated in the gallery. An additional 1,000 seats and 250 VIP seats have also been arranged.
Huge LED screens on the flanks of the gallery will show the match live. Special shuttle services have been organized to transport the audience between the venue and the Kasaragod railway station. Buses will also run to Sullia and Kumbala.
The tournament is expected to cost at least Rs 50 lakh, including the prize money of Rs 4 lakh. The gallery has been insured for Rs 1 crore.
The winners will walk away with Rs 2 lakh, while the runners-up get Rs 1 lakh. The third and fourth teams will be given Rs 50,000 each. Individual performances will also be rewarded.
The tournament is organized by a technical committee led by national team coach E Bhaskaran and Kerala State Kabaddi Association president Sudheer Kumar. Eight referees from the Amateur Kabaddi Federation, including PKL fame Yamuna Venkatesh, and six referees from the State Kabaddi Association will control the matches.
The stadium and surroundings will be covered by surveillance cameras. As many as 20 cameras have been fitted for security purpose. About 50 policemen will ensure that the matches go on without any incidents. They will be helped out by 200 volunteers.
A procession will start from the Mulleria Government School on 4 pm on Saturday to herald the tournament, organizing committee chairman Siji Mathew, general convener K Sankaran, Tulunad Kabaddi Academy chairman K Nazar, national kabaddi coach E Bhaskaran, M Achuthan and C Sheriff said.