Premier Handball league (PHL) set to begin in India as non-cricket leagues gain ground

PHL is scheduled to begin in 2022 under the aegis of the Handball Federation of India (HFI) and will have six state teams in its first season. 

The official logo of Premier Handball League.   -  SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT

Franchise leagues in India turn up another chapter as the Premier Handball League (PHL) looks set to take flight in Jaipur next year.   

The league, under the aegis of the Handball Federation of India (HFI), will have six state teams in its first season.   

One team will be rolled out every month, starting with the Gujarat-based Garvit Gujarat, owned by Garvit Sports Private Limited (GSPL).

In an interview with Sportstar, PHL's owner, Bluesports Entertainment Private Limited confirmed that it will work with the International Handball Federation to bring in foreign players also, whenever possible, following COVID-19 protocols.  

Each team will have two overseas players and 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 Bluesports, said.  

"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,” he added.  

Handball has been identified as a priority sport by the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports under the Target Olympic Podium Scheme (TOPS), a scheme to assist India’s top athletes to win medals at the Olympics.  

The sport has also been included in the Khelo India Programme, an initiative to facilitate grassroots development. 

Anandeshwar Pandey, a former national handball player and the Executive Director of the HFI, said that the league will play a crucial role in developing handball.

“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,” he added.  

Other than football and cricket, various franchise sports leagues such as the Pro-Kabaddi League and Premier Badminton league have cropped up over the last decade, and found a devoted fan following.

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