Kabaddi is the national sport of Bangladesh and is popular throughout South Asia. It is a team game which consists of two teams, each with twelve players. The goal of the game is to score as many points as possible by raiding the opposing team and defending one’s own team from the other’s raiders.
The first kabaddi competitions were held in 1921 in Maharashtra and from there, the sport spread. By the 1930’s, it was played all over India and South Asia. In 1950, the All India Kabaddi Federation was formed in order to look after the promotion of the game and two years later, the Senior National Championships began. Presently, the sport is played all over south Asia and with the rise of immigration, it has spread to Europe and Australia.
In order to play Kabaddi, not much is needed besides about 26 people. Each kabaddi team consists of twelve players, the two teams toss a coin and the winner gets to decide whether they are raiding or on defense, or they can decide which of the two courts they play in, and the loser gets to decide the one that the winner does not choose. The point of the game is for one team to send a raider out from their court to the opposing court, while chanting "Kabaddi" the entire time. The raider has to touch as many of the defenders as he can and then return safely to his own court; the defending court must stop the raider by tackling him as soon as he touches one of them.
The rules of kabaddi are as follows: If any part of a player's body leaves the court, that player is out, except during a struggle, then the player is only out if their entire body leaves the court. The raider must chant "Kabaddi" the entire time during the raid or they will be out and the opposing team will gain a point. Only one raider can enter the opponent's court at a time, if two raiders enter an opponent's court both raiders are out and the opposing team gains a point.
For someone who hasn't played the game, it can be difficult to describe "It is kinda like tag, in a sense, just a little more violent," said Helix student Kyleen Stahancyk. Others describe it as similar to football or rugby, but in reality it is a sport all its own. Kabaddi combines endurance, speed, and strength in a way that few other sports do. By only allowing the raider one breath per raid and making them chant the entire time, and having so many players in a confined space, this contact sport really does make itself unique.
"Football players or people who are athletic and okay with getting physical or violent would play it," said Stahancyk. The unique sport attracts unique players. Kabaddi is a sport that is taught to schoolchildren all over South Asia, but also has a highly aggressive pro league. Many say that because of how enjoyable and in-depth the game is, people across all ages and professional levels can enjoy it.