Games and sports have been played by humans since time immemorial. Kabbadi is a game that is hugely popular in South Asia although the game is played under different names in various countries. It has also gained international recognition with several prestigious tournaments held around the world. The International Kabbadi Federation lists 31 countries as its members.
The earliest form of Kabbadi originated in ancient India and there are several references to the game in the Mahabharata. The ancient Indian Vedic schools practiced the game with great reverence. The poet Tukaram has said in his writings that kabbadi was a favourite sport of Lord Krishna. It has been one of the most popular sports in South India for many centuries.
Kabbadi is a contact sport played by two opposing teams. The term Kabbadi is also used in reference to the various forms such as Sanjeevani, Gaminee, Amar and Punjabi which are played in conforming to international rules. Interestingly, this one game goes by several names in India – e.g. Kabbadi or Sadugudu in Tamil Nadu, Chedugudu in Andhra Pradesh, Hututu in Maharashtra. Elsewhere in the Asian region, it is called Hadudu in Bangladesh and Baibalaa in Maldives. Some variations in rules between playing countries exist although the game itself is not played very differently and it is considered a national sport – for e.g. Bangladesh and Nepal. During the British occupation of India it was played by the British soldiers as a fun sport and its entry into the UK was only imminent. The game is ruled by governing federations in these countries.
The origins of the game have been somewhat of a mystery, with several claimants to fame. It probably originated in the south Indian state of Tamil Nadu, if the name ‘kabbadi’ is understood to be a take-off on the term ‘kai pidi’, meaning to ‘hold hands’. It may have begun as a form of self defense between village groups and hunting parties and slowly metamorphosed into a game of fun. By the early 1900s, the rules of the game became standardized and modern. Since then it has become a synthesis of the sport that is played under various names and is popular among men and women equally.
International exposure to kabbadi came in 1936 at the Berlin Olympics where it was demonstrated by India. Its entry into the National Games in India was in Kolkata in 1938. Reconstituted as The Amateur Kabbadi Federation of India (AKFI) in 1972 from the earlier 1950s version of The All India Kabbadi Federation (AIKF), the sport received a great boost when the first national tournament was hosted in Chennai.
In the mid 1970s, Kabbadi was introduced to Japan, Nepal and Malaysia. The first Asian Kabbadi Championship was played in 1980 and Kabbadi was included in the 1990 Asian Games in Beijing for the very first time. The most popular Kabbadi Championships are the Asian Games, Asia Kabbadi Cup, UK Kabbadi Cup and the World Kabbadi Cup. The Pro Kabbadi League which commenced in 2014 in India is a national tournament that involves eight franchisee teams from eight different cities vying for a trophy, much like the Indian Premier League cricket tournament.
International variations of the game also feature similar rules where two teams comprising seven members each, with three supplementary members, face off on a field. The game extends for 45 minutes with two halves of 20 minutes each and a 5-minute break midway when the teams exchange sides. The variations in different forms comprise mainly on the points scored by teams, some rules governing the players and in some cases, the time duration.
Kabbadi is one of the few games that is played indoors as well as outdoors. In fact, beach kabbadi is a very popular element of the sport.
01 Jul 2016