When a traditional sport gets glorified – Kabaddi to the masses

About a year or two back, the success of the Indian Premier League gave the other sports associations to start similar leagues for their respective sports. Most would confuse the premier league for a football league similar to the English Premier league but here in India, it us for Cricket and as a lot might have heard, it is religion here. Soon enough will be talking about that too as the season is fast approaching. Coming back, one such association was the Kabbadi association. To the surprise of many, the tournament kicked off with a lot of celebrity support and is now increasing and adding its fan base slowly. In the post, I speak a bit about the sport and then our experience in one of the games we decided to go for.

As defined by ‘google’ Kabaddi is a sport of Indian origin played by teams of seven on a circular sand court. The players attempt to tag or capture opponents and must hold their breath while running, repeating the word ‘kabaddi’ to show that they are doing so. Each team comprises of 7 players. One player from each team goes on the other side called a raider to try and touch a member from the other side and get back and this happens by turn by turn. You can score points either by holding the raider in your half when he is there or when a player of your raider touches the opponent in their half. This is a very simplistic version of what the game, the link to a wikihow page (http://www.wikihow.com/Play-Kabaddi) can give you a fair idea of what the game is. And it is not really a surprising India is the world champion and has won a lot of medals in it. However, the glamour quotient is still missing from the place.

Coming to my experience with Kabbadi, it was the step brother of the bigger games like cricket and football. The main reason why we played it was, you can play in twilight, without too much equipment, just by drawing lines on the ground. So when such a game gets spotlight, gets commercialized, the players start becoming famous, you have to sit up and take notice.

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National Sports Complex of India – The venue for the event

The caravan of this edition of the professional version called ‘ProKabaddi’ came to Mumbai we tried grabbing the opportunity. In all honesty, I wasn’t too upbeat about the idea, I was expecting a low key, low intensity game. The thought was generated from the fact that no seats were allocated and it was dependent on a first come first serve basis.

So accordingly we reached about an hour early before the start and to our surprise, the seats on the vantage points had vanished. One fear was gone. The atmosphere was going to be electrifying. The Sardar Patel stadium in Nation Sports Complex of India where the games are held, add the additional spice with a well built and a comfortable atmosphere.

Till the game started, the organizers had planned a match for the kids from the audience with some cartoon characters, an initiative that I endorse as it will teach the kids a lot about kabaddi albeit in a fun way.

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The electric atmosphere – A full house

The real show started then, with throbbing lights, professional commentary, to the mark graphic images it felt like a profession version. The stars were welcomes with full honors by the crowd. The first match was between UMumbai from Mumbai and Jaipur Pink Panthers from Jaipur. As Mumbai garnered points, the crowd cheered, people rose and applauded. The attachment to the ‘home team’ could be felt. It was as if you could touch it. Mumbai easily routed Jaipur and qualified for the next round. What I took away from that game was Fazal Atrachali ‘s (Mumbai) lifting of the opposite teams raider and securing a point. The raider tried to jump to escape by jumping, while Atrachali caught him in mid air and caught him.

The next match was between Patna Pirates ( Patna) and Telgu titans ( Vizag). This was more of an even game. Even though Patna was on top of the table, Vizag was able to match every move. The moment that made me Rahul Chaudhary’s (Vizag) fan was touching one of the Patna defenders and slyly getting another one because his attention was somewhere else. There is presence of mind that I saw.

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A moment from the Vizag vs Patna game Pic courtesy: http://www.prokabaddi.com/

 

By the end, I realized that the game has everything that a sport needs, it has strategy, moves, emotion, tension and all thrills that a game should have. What it needed was a platform, which in my belief is now provided by Pro Kabaddi. Have become a fan and hope to stay so.

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