JSW SPORTS, who acquired a franchise for the 2017 season of the Pro Kabaddi League (SSPKL), announced on Saturday that the team would be called Haryana Steelers.
The Steelers, who will play out of Haryana, are one of four new teams (Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh and Tamil Nadu being the others) that have joined the Pro Kabaddi League. With 12 teams in all, the competition will commence in July and continue until October as opposed to the two short stints last year.
“The manner in which the PKL has swiftly turned around the way Kabaddi is played, viewed and followed is fantastic to say the least. We are thrilled to be part of the ride this season. We couldn’t have asked for a more apt place than Haryana to field a team out of , given it is where our family hails from and that it has always been a hotbed for athletes who have gone on to do the nation proud,” said Parth Jindal, Director JSW Sports.
“Haryana has been touted as the hub of Indian Kabaddi and I’m glad we will be giving the state its own team. A team that we are confident will be welcomed and supported,” added Jindal.
JSW Sports also confirmed the appointment of Ranbir Singh Khokkar as coach of the Haryana Steelers. Khokkar, a native Haryanvi and formal national Kabaddi player, boasts of more than 35 years of coaching experience, leading India to Gold Medals at the eleventh Asian Games in Beijing in 1990 and the fourth Asian Indoor Games in Incheon in 2013. Khokkar is also known for his contribution to the Iranian Kabaddi team that now boasts of talents such as Fazel Athrachali and Meraj Sheykh, strong forces in the Pro Kabaddi League.
Commenting on his appointment, Khokkar said,
“I look forward to working with a team such as JSW Sports who are focused on the development of sport in the country and the professional management of sports teams. Their experience in team management and the infrastructure they provide will be a big benefit to a team that’s making its debut.”
He continued, with his thought on the auction, sharing,
“With the increased number of teams and extended time that the League will be in action, our focus will be on the fitness levels when we choose our players. We will also concentrate on building a team which is a mix of young and experienced players.”
With only seven players retained by the eight existing teams, the auction will boast of some of the best international and national players and the right team composition will be very crucial for the Haryana Steelers.
The Pro Kabaddi League goes into player auctions on Monday, the 22nd of May 2017.