Enthused by the resounding success of the pioneering Champions Boat League (CBL) that concluded today, the Kerala government is taking the water event’s next edition to venues across the state, two key ministers said.

The 2020 CBL will be pan-Kerala, thus spreading northward across Malabar, Finance Minister Dr T M Thomas Isaac and his tourism counterpart Kadakampally Surendran said at the 12thand final round of the league. The CBL’s valedictory function coincided with the President’s Trophy Boat Race at the scenic Ashtamudi Lake in this city.

The first CBL was conceived to be held in six districts but that figure ended up to be five as technical issues forced organisers to skip the October 19 Ponnani round in north-central Malappuram district. Tropical Titans entered the record book in a blaze of glory by emerging as the champions of the inaugural edition.

The next CBL will have its rounds in northern parts of the state with stronger sponsorships from corporate houses, Dr Isaac said. The organisational work for the 2020 edition will start as early as in January, he added, noting that the pioneering CBL did attract international viewership owing to foreign tourists as well as live beaming of the races by national and international TV channels.

Surendran said the trendsetting CBL has succeeded in reviving Kerala’s traditional boat races besides injecting into them a dose of professionalism in tune with the times. “The CBL has lent a brand value to the boat races. I am sure the rules of the league will evolve stronger formats in the future editions,” he added, recalling instances of how cricket has formulated novel concepts in its course from the Test version to Twenty20.

The CBL has had several instances of photo-finish across its 12 editions, the minister added, hinting at the competitive spirit of the participants.

Kerala Fisheries Minister J Mercykutty Amma noted how “excellent coordination” between the various departments of the state made CBL “world-class”.

Kerala Tourism Secretary P Bala Kiran said that “Kerala Tourism has succeeded in pulling off the near impossible task of creating & conducting a inaugural IPL style league with so many unknowns – 3000 players, 12 venues on rivers, 8 TV channels, 6 languages commentary, legal agreements, umpteen first time organisational challenges and learnings.”

Overall, 22 lakh people have viewed the championship at 12 venues. The league had 19.5 million viewers on TV and social media channels that was flagged off by cricket icon Sachin Tendulkar at the Punnamada Lake in Alappuzha on August 31. Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan had inaugurated the opening leg.

By Manoj

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