Exclusive: There’s an understanding between us and the league that it’s a long-term process to reap profits – Punit Balan, Co-owner, Mumbai Muscle

In the exclusive conversation, Mr Balan mentioned that indigenous sports should not be sidelined which is why as a Group they have supported numerous sports.

With the launch of the professional Indian arm wrestling tournament, Pro Panja League (PPL), the native Indian sport is set to revolutionize into a full franchise tournament.

With many sports transitioning to franchise models, Panja also appears to make a significant advancement in the space. This will undoubtedly result in a win-win situation for all parties involved, including players who had previously focused primarily on competing in domestic tournaments, franchise owners and league founders, and most importantly, fans.

Mumbai Muscle, one of the teams of the Pro Panja League, are all set to participate in this tournament with the mission of revolutionizing the sport of arm-wrestling and taking it to unmatched heights.

The team will compete in the competition, which will take place in Delhi from July 28 to August 13, along with other franchises.

10 weight divisions, including three for women, six for men, and one for physically challenged athletes, will be offered in the first season. With such a structure for the competition, it will undoubtedly attract the attention of many sports fans worldwide.

SportsMint Media had the honour of speaking to Mr Punit Balan, Co-owner of Mumbai Muscle. Mr Balan is also the owner of several other sporting teams such as Pune Jaguars in the Tennis Premier League (TPL), Mumbai Khiladis in Ultimate Kho Kho (UKK), Maharashtra Ironmen in the Premier Handball League (PHL), Kolhapur Tuskers in Maharashtra Premier League and Bengaluru Smashers in Ultimate Table Tennis (UTT).

In the exclusive conversation, Mr Balan mentioned that indigenous sports should not be sidelined which is why as a Group they have supported numerous sports and athletes.

1. What motivated you to come up with the team in the Pro Panja League?

I have been playing Panja throughout my life. Even now also whenever people meet they play Panja and it’s been an integral part of my life.

2. What will be the business model of Mumbai Muscle heading into the first season of PPL? 

As a group, we own nine teams now in various franchise-based leagues. In every league, there’s an understanding between us and the league that it’s a long-term process to reach profits. You will reap profits from the investments in a longer version or in the long term, not in the first year. So we are here to support the game, support the panel. It always takes thousand days for any success to come towards you.

3. Do you think the multiple editions of Ranking Tournaments by Pro Panja League have given the competition much-needed momentum before the first season?

See, even though the season has not started and it has gathered a sizable following on social media handles. Our team also currently has over 110K followers. Going further PPL will attract more audience and the number of people who will start joining this competition or the ranking, also, will be more. 

4. With Panja being an indigenous sport; do you think it will attract brands which are traditionally old and indigenous?

Brands that want to reach the masses or the youth may come in as sponsors and definitely being an indigenous sport even indigenous brands may also get attracted towards this league, it’s a mix-and-match. Any brand which wants to connect to the market or to the youth may join. Brands who also want to enhance their reach on digital platforms can join in. I feel that this competition won’t just attract indigenous entities but also new-age companies from different sectors.

5. After acquiring teams in various different competitions which is the next competition that you’re targeting to own a team in?

We are looking to find leagues being from one within the country and as a Group, we will be sharing news with you all soon.  

6. What’s the major objective behind owning teams in various different competitions? What is the final goal of it? 

The final goal of acquiring teams is to not let any indigenous sports be sidelined and that is the reason why as a Group we are focused, not only to support the sport but also to support athletes, to support their talent. We have 60 athletes signed in our sports division today and want them to play for our country and get a medal back for us.

 7. How has your experience so far been in owning teams in different competitions? Could you please elaborate on your experience so far?

The experience has been good, so far, we have teams in several different competitions. We are excited about moving forward as we get to know a lot of new players. They are all from humble and low-profile backgrounds. While promoting our Mumbai team from UKK, we had to go to Mumbai along with the team and we let the entire team stay in Taj to ensure their comfort. Ensuring athletes’ comfort and providing them with an opportunity is what we are trying to do while promoting these sports. It’s a different experience, a different ballgame altogether and I’m very excited.

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