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A Brief Guide to Kabaddi - India's Most Popular Indigenous Sport

A Kabaddi match is made up of two halves lasting 20 minutes each

Thursday January 30, 2020 11:09 PM, ummid.com News Network

Dubai Kabaddi World Cup

["Kabaddi Tournament, Ramakrishna Mission," (Public Domain) by Belur Math, Howrah]

When the international sports community thinks of India, cricket is probably the premier pastime that first comes to mind but, within the subcontinent, kabaddi is very popular too.

But what is kabaddi? It's a team contact sport played with seven people on each side and five substitutes. Ever play a game of tag when you were growing up? In very simple terms, kabaddi is like an organized version of that.

There are regional variations throughout India and neighboring Bangladesh, but most regulation "standard style" kabaddi matches take place indoors on a rectangular court with dimensions of 13 x 10 meters. Each team has a turn at sending its designated raider player into the opposition half.

A raider scores points by tagging all opponents and making it back to their own half without being tackled themselves. For every player tagged, the raiding team gets one point.

Sounds fun, right? This is serious sport though, and each individual tagging must done in one breath, with the raider continually chanting "kabaddi" as they chase their opponents. A 30-second shot clock is the time limit for a single raid.

The defending team for that period must avoid being tagged. If a player is caught, then they are temporarily out the game but can return to the court by their team trading points for players. A kabaddi match is made up of two halves lasting 20 minutes each.

Kabaddi was a demonstration event at the Olympic Games way back in 1936 in Berlin, Germany. It has also been part of the Asian Games since 1990, with India winning gold in all but one edition.

That demonstrates just how good at kabaddi they are on the subcontinent. Only Iran has broken the Indian monopoly of gold medals. When it comes to placing bets on kabaddi, Superlenny India can show you how to do so, with a shortlist of the best providers as well as a breakdown of the most popular types of wager.

A professional league for the sport was set up in 2014, with around 435,000,000 viewers watching the Pro Kabaddi League on TV during its first season. The audience has since grown almost three times to an impressive figure of over 1,200,000,000.

In order to develop the Pro Kabaddi League as a brand, it took inspiration from the Indian Premier League cricket, which has attracted international support and interest. The league has taken place at various times each year, in 2019 it was between July and October, with 12 teams involved.

There are kabaddi teams in many of India's largest cities. Mumbai is represented in the Pro Kabaddi League by U Mumba. Hyderabad has the Telugu Titans, New Delhi the Dabang KC, Chennai the Tamil Thalaivas, Pune the Puneri Paltan, Kolkata the Bengal Warriors, and Jaipur the wonderfully-named Pink Panthers.

League rules permit each franchise to have three foreign players. These have included kabaddi pros from as far and wide as South Korea and Thailand, with Nepalese and Iranians making up most of the talent from outside India.

Although it remains under the radar for some, kabaddi is growing all the time and a fourth World Cup in the sport, the first scheduled to be held outside of India, is set to take place in Dubai, United Arab Emirates in 2020.

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