Game of the Masses, as often called, Kabbadi is like that long forgotten lover with whom one was supposed to elope but the plan turned sour.
A simplistic, fun and highly engaging sport, Kabbadi's roots had originated in northern parts of India and spread throughout south India and South east Asia, Japan and Iran.
Surprisingly, for people who mistake it for a game that is only restrcited to Asia, might like to know, it is even played by the British Army for fun, to keep fit and as an enticement to recruit soldiers from the British Asian community.
Sadly , the kind of recognition this sport desevered from its motherland, was given to it by the neighbours. Kabbadi is the national sport of Nepal and Bangladesh.
It is known as 'hadudu' in Bangladesh, 'baibalaa' in Maldives, and 'sadugudu' in Tamil Nadu.
A dramatized version of the great Indian epic, the "Mahabharata" has made an analogy of the game to a tight situation faced by Abhimaneu, the heir of ' the Pandava kings when he is surrounded on all sides by the enemy. Buddhist literature speaks of the Gautam Buddha playing Kabaddi for recreation. History also reveals that princes of yore played Kabaddi to display their strength and win their brides!
Kabaddi attained National status in the year 1918. Maharashtra was the pioneer state to bring the game to the National platform and give it further popularity. Standard rules and regulations were formulated in 1918 but were brought out in print in the year 1923 and in this very year, an All India Tournament was organized at Baroda with these rules. Kabaddi has not looked back since then and numerous tournaments are organized all over the country through out the year.
The first International status was presented to Kabbadi, in the year 1936 at Berlin Olympics, demonstrated by Hanuman Vyayam Prasarak Mandal, Amaravati, Maharashtra.
The game was introduced in the Indian Olympic Games at Calcutta, in the year 1938. It was in 1950, that the All India Kabaddi Federation came into existence.
But given all the 'factual' data of this Game of Masses, one can easily say that the growth of Kabbadi as a professional sport has not only been gradual , but also negligible in context to other sports like cricket, football and tennis.
In the last 5-6 years, sports other than cricket and tennis , have taken a leap after extensive campaining and mass media awareness. The result of which was the PRO KABBADI LEAGUE.
But it was not until the 2006 event in Doha that Charu Sharma got the inspiration for kabaddi's latest incarnation in India. Charu Sharma was suprised to encouter the forlon faces of the people who did not manage the tickets for the event at Doha. That is when he decide to commercialise it and eight years on, his plan to bring kabaddi to a wider audience has just been launched. His firm Mashal Sports runs the Pro Kabaddi League, which sees eight teams from across India playing rounds of matches in each of the competing cities over six weeks.
Even though the format of the show is unabashedly designed for television, the concept and the urge to bring forward such a people-loving sport into the mainstream media highlight seems like a positive step.