Thursday, June 20, 2024

Players’ desire for growth gets wings with the launch of Premier Handball League

The Premier Handball League (PHL), which is set to begin on Thursday, has ignited players’ hopes for the advancement of the sport in the country. The high-octane league will run from June 8-25 at the Sawai Mansingh Indoor Stadium in Jaipur, Rajasthan.

The league will see the 6 teams-Rajasthan Patriots, Garvit Gujarat, Maharashtra Ironmen, Golden Eagles Uttar Pradesh, Telugu Talons and Delhi Panzers will compete against each other at the indoor facility.

A total of 116 players including foreign players, India international and domestic handball talents went under the hammer at the inaugural PHL auction.

In an interaction with IANS, Indian Handball team captain Arun Kumar shared his enthusiasm regarding the initiation of the league and expressed his hope that it will have a positive impact on the overall growth of the sport.

“Handball leagues are happening everywhere in Asia and Europe, so it was everyone’s dream to play for any club/franchise. We have been waiting for the last three years, ever since the progress for the league started. But it was halted due to Covid-19. Finally, it’s happening now, the confidence is good, we all are excited and everything is going well,” Arun told IANS in an interview.

Arun further expressed hope that by playing in the league, players will get to learn a lot from foreign players, which will be beneficial for the growth of the national team.

“Earlier, our team lacked the opportunity to compete against foreign players, as only a few times teams would venture abroad for exposure each year. Consequently, we fell behind, unable to match the prowess of stronger teams. However, now we have the chance to face foreign players head-on,” he said.

“By playing alongside them, we will identify our weaknesses and strive to address them. Learning from our counterparts will undoubtedly contribute to our continued improvement and progress.

Following the PHL, we have the upcoming Asian Games and Asian Championship. The PHL will provide us with a solid foundation and equipment, ensuring our performance is of high caliber. Consequently, we will tailor our training sessions to align with these prestigious events. Rest assured, you will witness the outcome of our preparations reflected in our performance at the Asian Games,” he added.

Atul, who will ply his trade for Rajasthan Patriots in PHL, highlighted that players’ only goal is to elevate the stature of handball, and added irrespective of which team emerges as the champion, the true victor will always be the sport of handball itself.

“Our objective is to excel and elevate the sport of handball. In this inaugural season, every team is driven to emerge victorious. However, my foremost desire is to witness every player competing with true sportsmanship, contributing to the growth of handball as a whole. Regardless of which team triumphs in this league, the ultimate winner will undeniably be the sport of handball itself,” he said.

The Chandigarh-based player has been appointed as the captain of the Indian team for the 2023 International Handball Federation (IHF) Emerging Nations Championship, where he led the team to the semifinals.

Last year, he captained the Indian side for the 20th Asian Handball Championship, held at Dammam (Saudi Arabia). Earlier, he was also the vice-captain of the Indian side in the main international events.

Speaking about his captaincy journey, the 32-year-old goalie said: “The experience of being a captain has been immensely rewarding, carrying both a sense of duty and a touch of exhilaration. Alongside this thrill, there exists a subtle pressure as expectations from others begin to surface. Yet, there is a certain satisfaction in facing life’s complexities.

Rajasthan patriots have given me a chance, so I will play with full vigor and will not let them down. They showed trust in me and I will do my best.”

The PHL is sanctioned by the South Asian Handball Federation and affiliated with the Asian Handball Federation (AHF).

International Handball Federation (IHF) has also promised to support the league, which is expected to bolster the progress of handball in India and attract more players to take up the sport professionally.

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