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April 5, 2020

Pak players to be affected if England kabaddi league is delayed: Irfan


April 5, 2020

KARACHI: As England has been hit extremely hard by the COVID-19 pandemic it’s kabaddi league to be held this summer seems unlikely to be conducted. This will certainly affect Pakistani players too.

“Due to coronavirus issue, the fate of England league is unknown. We are unable to communicate with our clubs for the last 20 to 25 days,” Pakistan circle kabaddi team captain Mohammad Irfan Mana told ‘The News’ from Faisalabad on Saturday.

Irfan, who last season represented Coventry in the league, agreed that it would be a huge loss for them if the event was deferred

“Definitely it will be a huge loss for us as around 20 of our players normally play in the England league,” said Irfan, who recently led Pakistan to their maiden Kabaddi World Cup title when the Green-shirts dethroned India in the final at the Punjab Stadium in Lahore.

“Canada league is also likely be hit as the issue is also there. Around ten to 12 Pakistani players play there every summer,” the raider said.

The COVID-19 pandemic has crippled the world economy and has also forced the global sports bodies to postpone their events. A huge population of the world is under lockdown because of the deadly virus which originated in Wuhan a few months ago.

Having started his career in 2001-2002 Faisalabad-born Irfan has been prolific raider of Pakistan.

World Cup title has instilled a new hope in Pakistan’s kabaddi which emerged as the top brand of the country.

And Irfan believes that kabaddi is even more crowd-puller than cricket.

“In Punjab, you can arrange a cricket match at one place and a kabaddi match at the other and then see which attracts more crowd. Certainly it will be kabaddi which will attract more people,” he said.

Irfan said that not just Punjab but other parts of the country also proved to be hot beds of the sport.

“A few years ago during national championship in Bannu, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, a huge crowd was seen and it proved that kabaddi is not only popular in Punjab but in KP also,” said Irfan, who plays for Pakistan Air Force (PAF).

To a query, he said that Pakistan direly needs to organise more international events which will help in the development of the sport.

“It’s very crucial to hold international events here in future,” the skipper said.

Pakistan had fielded a young side in the World Cup which showed its class game in front of the home crowd. This was also the first time in history that Pakistan hosted World Cup.

Irfan said that he will play for the country till he is fit.

“You know in kabaddi injuries come frequently and I cannot say how many years I can serve Pakistan. But I will make efforts to play for many more years for the country,” he said.

Irfan said that diet plays a key role in kabaddi players fitness.

“Diet is very important for us. Majority of our kabaddi players belong to rural areas. We use milk and butter in abundance as we keep scores of buffaloes at home as we own our own agricultural land and this helps us maintain our solid health,” he added.