ISLAMABAD, Feb 07 (Alliance News):Kashmir Premier League’s (KPL) family grew to seven with the induction of a new franchise, GB Markhors at an impressive ceremony at Convention Centre Islamabad on late Sunday.
Previously, the league consisted of six outfits that featured in its inaugural edition, held at picturesque Muzaffarabad Cricket Stadium from August 6-17, 2021. Bagh Stallions, Kotli Lions, Mirpur Royals, Muzaffarabad Tigers, Overseas Warriors and Rawalakot Hawks appeared in the first edition.
The GB Markhors owner, Jahanzeb Alam signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with KPL Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Chaudhry Shahzad Akhtar.
Besides others, Gilgit-Baltistan Chief Minister Khalid Khurshid and Chairman of the Parliament’s Special Committee on Kashmir Shehryar Khan Afridi, President KPL Arif Malik attended the ceremony.
Addressing at the ceremony, Gilgit-Baltistan Chief Minister said that GB Markhors’ launch would give a boost to cricket in the region. “The induction of GB Markhors in KPL will promote cricket in Gilgit-Baltistan. It will provide an opening to our youngsters to perform at a bigger stage.”
He said his government was trying to promote cricket in Gilgit-Baltistan and was going to build two stadiums in collaboration with Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB). He said one stadium would be established in Skardu, while the other would be in Nagar.
“We are optimistic that with the construction of these two stadiums international cricket will make its way in Gilgit-Baltistan,” he added.
He said people of Gilgit-Baltistan were blessed with natural stamina and physically strength. “As a government we are trying to provide opportunities to our youth in cricket as well as other sports, enabling them to showcase their skills at the international level and bring laurels for the country.”
He said people in Azad Kashmir were taking part in all sort of activities but in Occupied Kashmir the situation was totally different.
“We also intend to launch a premier league in Gilgit-Baltistan in collaboration with PCB to provide more and more opportunities to our youngsters to exhibit their talent.”
“I’m also excited to tell you that besides cricket stadiums, we are going to establish grounds for other sport disciplines wherein our athletes will be trained for the Olympics.
“People in our area have immense potential and I’m sure the way our government is making efforts a new era of sports will begin there [in Gilgit-Baltistan],” he added.
Shehryar Afridi on the occasion said that GB Markhors would represent the true colours of Gilgit-Baltistan. “The resilience, passion, commitment and above all the courage of Gilgit-Baltistan will now be a part of KPL,” he said.
“This league has the ability to prove to the entire globe that when it comes to Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan they’ve the talent to compete with best of the best.
That is what they portrayed in KPL’s first edition. Now in the second edition, the new teams will not only add value but give a message across the world and across the LOC. The message is that over there [in Occupied Kashmir] siege, tyranny and oppression is order of the day. Human rights are being bulldozed and the humanity is at the receiving end.
“But on the other side of the LOC [in Azad Kashmir] there is festivity, encouragement, passion, commitment and above all human values are respected to the core,” he added.
He said KPL had the potential to highlight Kashmir issue to the world. He said India was using all type of atrocities to oppress Kashmiris but it would never succeed in its nefarious designs.
Meanwhile, former Pakistan cricketer Abdul Razzaq, who coached Kotli Lions in the first edition, has been appointed GB Markhors’ coach. Former Pakistan skipper Shahid Khan Afridi, who led defending champions Rawalakot Hawks in 2021 will captain Markhors now.