Cricketing legend Sachin Tendulkar, along with Kerala’s Chief Minister Shri. Pinarayi Vijayan are all set to flag off the Champions Boat League (CBL) in Alappuzha, a three-month long boating championship hosted by the Kerala Tourism. Here is everything we know about it! By Bayar Jain
When one thinks of Kerala, chances are you’ll visualise their famed backwaters thronging with men in long, narrow boats cruising down the river. It’s no surprise then that this coastal state is home to boat races, the newest of which will be the Champions Boat League(CBL). Hosted by Kerala Tourism, CBL is the country’s first-ever boat-race formatted on the lines of Indian Premiere League (IPL) cricket. Sachin Tendulkar, the cricketing legend who needs no introduction, will be the star guest for the league’s inauguration ceremony in Alappuzha on Saturday. Moreover, Chief Minister Shri Pinarayi Vijayan will declare the league open, along with the inauguration of the famed Nehru Trophy Boat race at the Punnamada lake, as well. The three-month long league will be fought among nine teams, culminating on November 23. The finals for the renowned President’s Trophy Boat Race at Kollam, 68 km north of the state capital Thiruvananthapuram, will also be held on the same day.
The league, with prize monies totalling INR 5.9 crore – the fourth highest across all sports in India – is scheduled to begin August 31. Although the championship was originally meant to begin on August 10, heavy rains in the state led to its rescheduling.
“We are a people who bounce back from disasters. The heavy downpour has only made us keener for the CBL and realise the importance of such a championship,” said Tourism Minister Shri. Kadakampally Surendran in a statement to the press.
And bounce back they did! As per the new schedule, starting August 31, races will be held every Saturday (barring September 21). They will be held from 2 pm to 5 pm in different cities across the state. Boat races, however, are not the only attraction during the championship. The inaugural event is expected to feature water adventure sports, as well. Moreover, the CBL is being pegged as a game-changing initiative. Currently, the coastal state is home to many scattered snake-boat races. With this championship, CBL aims to professionalise these sports while commercialising them without losing the conventional spirit. Speaking about the same, Surenderan says, “The boat race has not just entertainment value, it has a role in stimulating the economy as well.”
Keeping this in mind, the price of the tickets spans across various price brackets. Starting at INR 100, they can go up to INR 3,000 depending upon the category you choose. For convenience, these tickets are easily available online. They can even be purchased on the spot at any of the 20 counters set up at all the venues. Tickets for the inaugural event are available at the Alappuzha finishing point and Vijaya Park on the Alappuzha beach. The District Tourism Office in Kumarakom North, District Tourism Promotion Council (DTPC) in Kodimatha, Department of Tourism in Ernakulam, Tourist Information Centre in Fort Kochi, and the DTPC Office in Alappuzha are also selling tickets.
Can’t head to the state to watch the matches live? Fret not! Star Sports 2, Star Sports 2 HD, Star Sports 1 Tamil, Asianet Worldwide, Asianet Plus, Hotstar, ETV Andhra Pradesh and ETV Telangana will broadcast the event live for an hour from 4 pm.
The teams competing this year are: Tropical Titans (traditionally, Pallathuruthi Boat Club), Backwater Knights (Village Boat Club), Backwater Ninja (Brothers Boat Club), Backwater Warriors (Town Boat Club), Coast Dominators (United Boat Club), Mighty Oars (NCDC), Pride Chasers (Vembanad Boat Club), Raging Rowers (Police Boat Club) and Thunder Oars (KBC/SFBC).The first three winners of each CBL match will get INR 5 lakh, INR 3 lakh and INR 1 lakh respectively. Moreover, all participants are entitled to a bonus prize of INR 4 lakh per match.