The other day my son asked me if we had any lawn games he could borrow for the 4th of July gathering his was attending at a friends' home. He was thinking of something like croquet. However, had he had the time to learn and teach a new sport, I would have suggested Kabaddi.
I was introduced to the Punjabi sport Kabaddi the first time I watched Pardes (1997). Kabaddi is one of India's oldest sports. A 2010 AFP video describes this 4,000 year-old game - one that India wants to add to the Olympic lineup.
Here's how it works. Two opposing teams play on a rectangular court. Each team takes it in turns to attack by sending across one of their team mates. The raider's goal is to tag as many players ("stoppers") as possible without being wrestled to the ground. If that wasn't hard enough, the attacker has to hold their breath and chant "Kabaddi".
Earlier this year, Al Jazeera reported that after news that wrestling had been dropped from the 2020 Olympics, supporters are aiming to replace it with Kabaddi. Currently, 41 countries now competing in the game, according to Ashok Das, England women’s kabaddi coach and the vice-president of the International Kabaddi Federation (IKF).
"We want to take kabaddi into the Olympic Games. We have done a lot of work to get people into the game. We have coaches in Iran, Afghanistan and Malaysia. Most of the best coaches are from India because this game comes from India," said the 49-year-old with a hint of pride in his voice.
An ex-kabaddi player born in Punjab, Das introduced the sport to the British Army in 2005 as a way of keeping fit.
The word Kabaddi derives from two Tamil words: kai which means hand and pidi which means catch. This is roughly interpreted as holding hands - which appears to be a technique used to keep the stoppers moving together.
In early June, the Punjab deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal announced that the 4th edition of Kabaddi World Cup will be held in the second half of November this year and 25 nations will participate.
Here is a portion of the Kabaddi scene from the film Pardes.
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