India to get its first handball tournament with Premier Handball league (PHL)

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Amidst the reign of cricket as the most popular sport in the country, a number of other sports in India is set to see their ascension in the coming future, starting with Premier Handball league (PHL) next year in Jaipur.

The league, which is being organized by the Handball Federation of India, will have six state teams in its inaugural season and each participating team will have a maximum of 14 players in total.

“Popularity of handball in tier-2 and tier-3 and villages in India is really high. There are about 11 lakh players in handball across India,” Abhinav Banthia, the President of PHL owner Bluesports Entertainment Private Limited, stated.

“The Indian Handball Federation has given us a calendar of its events and camps across the country. Our idea is to reach out to those locations,” Banthia added.

Under its Target Olympic Podium Scheme (TOPS) scheme that aids top Indian athletes in clinching success at the Olympics, the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports recognises Handball as one of the priority sports for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

PHL has also been inducted into the Khelo India Programme, which aims to promote sports development at the grassroots level. Bluesports Entertainment also stated that it will work with the IHF to bring in foreign players as well.

“We have so much potential for handball in India… the league will help us in creating a large pool of talented players and also giving them much-needed financial stability in their careers,” former national handball player and the Executive Director of the HFI Anandeshwar Pandey acknowledged.

Apart from cricket and football, a number of other sports leagues have emerged in the country in the past decade and currently have a steady fan following, such as the Pro-Kabaddi League and Premier Badminton League.

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