It will be a critical component of grass root development, claims Mr Kiran Kattimani.
When Rajeshwari Gayakwad spun India to victory over New Zealand with a five-for at the recently concluded Women’s World Cup in England, Karnataka woke up to the fact that they had a champion in their midst.
Since her fete, Gayakwad is an inspiration to boys and girls across the state and in particular to the cricketing aspirants from Bijapur -her home town in north-Karnataka. Despite the immense love for the sport in the region, facilities are limited and very few youngsters progress through the ranks. Slowly but surely, this is changing, thanks to the efforts of one man.
“We’re working in tandem with the Bijapur Liberal District Educational Association (BLDEA) to usher in reform and developmental activities in the region,” said Mr. Kiran Kattimani, owner of the KPL franchise Bijapur Bulls.
“We are now planning a Women’s T20 cricket league in Bijapur later this year and in collaboration with the KSCA, will invite all the women cricketers in the state.”
With the Indian Women’s team’s remarkable performance at the World Cup and the ever increasing clamour for the development of women’s cricket, this proposal is both novel and bold.
And this isn’t the first time that Mr Kattimani has stepped up to bat for cricket in the region. Through the Bijapur Bulls brand, a franchise he owns since the inception of KPL in 2009, promotion of talent has been his prime focus.
“Right after the second edition of the IPL and well before the Karnataka Premier League was launched, we organised a T20 tournament called the Bijapur Premier League,” he said while recalling the immense success of the event.
The eight-team tournament was conducted with the objective of providing exposure to cricketers across the Bijapur districts and received tremendous support from schools and colleges.
“Even now, every time we conduct selection trials at Bijapur, 3,000 players show up from all the neighbouring districts and they’re all good. There are very little opportunities and so much talent on offer,” he said.
Last year, a separate Bijapur Bulls squad was formed with players that didn’t make the cut for the KPL team. What followed was a developmental tour that witnessed the team travel to Colombo and Sharjah for matches.
“We organised tours and tournaments so boys and girls get exposed to all international turfs before playing First-Class cricket.”
With a vision firmly in pace and a pipeline of activities on the anvil, cricket and talent is set to blossom in the mofussil region for Karnataka.