KARACHI: Kabaddi suffered the most due to Covid-19 pandemic. Pakistan last featured in the World Cup it hosted in Lahore in February last year. And since then the players have not been able to get any major outlet to flex their muscles. The government has imposed a ban on body-contact sports due to Covid-19. The organisers are desperately waiting for the state’s next decision which is likely to come in the next few days.
“The government had imposed restrictions on activities of body-contact sports until January 20, 2021. Let’s see whether the government extends it or allows us to hold our activities,” PKF secretary Mohammad Sarwar told ‘The News’ in an interview on Monday.
“It has been 11 months since any kabaddi activity was held. In the international circuit too kabaddi activities have been remained suspended. It’s a big issue,” said Sarwar, also the secretary of Asian Kabaddi Federation (AKF).
“The players feature in local-level events but at national level we are not allowed to hold any activity,” said Sarwar, a former Pakistan captain.
“It’s a big loss for the players. They also missed foreign leagues. They have had to depend only on the salaries they get from their parent departments,” Sarwar said.
Pakistani players regularly feature in leagues in England, Canada and Europe. Every player earns around Rs2 million per season easily. “We had also planned so many national and international events but cannot do anything unless the situation improves,” Sarwar said.
When asked if the state did not lift restrictions on activities of body-contact sports by January 20 what the PKF would do, Sarwar replied: “We will then look for alternatives. It’s a complicated issue but we will have to seek for alternatives, how we could organise the events and give competitions to our players,” the official said.
When asked whether the PKF plans to organise events in a bio-secure bubble, Sarwar said it would be too difficult. “It would be too expensive for us. We don’t have the resources. You have to keep around 250 players and officials in a hygienic bubble. Yes, the government can organise events in such a bubble,” he said.
Sarwar was hopeful that there would be something positive in the near future. “Vaccines are also coming. I hope things will be under control soon,” Sarwar said. Kabaddi was part of the 6th Asian Beach Games which were slated to be held in China in April 2021 but have been postponed for an indefinite period due to the pandemic.
The Super Kabaddi League (SKL) is also in the pipelines. Once the restriction is lifted the organisers will go for that. The SKL was held successfully in 2018 in Lahore in which 10 city-based franchises featured, including foreign players. Gujrat Warriors are the reigning champions of the league.
Sarwar said that the AKF and World Kabaddi Federation held virtual meetings during the last few months in which these issues were discussed. “They are also quite eager to see activities resume,” the official said.
Quite surprisingly professional boxing events were held in Lahore and Karachi on December 19, 2020, despite the fact that boxing is a body-contact sport. On the other hand, Pakistan Boxing Federation (PBF) has been barred from holding any boxing events.
Meanwhile, Pakistan team captain Irfan Mana said players are suffering a lot. “It’s really tough for players to survive,” Irfan told ‘The News’. “We just rely on salaries as we are unable to get any event. We are desperately waiting for the things to resume,” Irfan said.
Source: The News