By: Dylan Webb, Sports Editor
As a sports fan that enjoys competition in a wide range of formats, I’m always on the lookout for new sports to check out. Recently, at the recommendation of one of my glorious co-workers here at The Peak, I watched my first ever match of Kabaddi, and discovered a fast-paced sport best described as a blend of tag, wrestling, and, uh, swimming.
Kabaddi is a team sport played on a small court. Interestingly, it’s one of the few organized team sports that requires no special equipment or clothing to play. For tournaments, teams are classified by weight and age class, given the intensely physical nature of the sport. Teams consist of 12 players, though only seven are allowed on the court for each team at any given time, and each team must designate one active player on the court as a raider. The function of the raider is to score offensive points by entering the opposing team’s side of the court and tagging as many opposing players as possible. On the other side of things, a team scores a defensive point by preventing the opposing teams raider from returning to their own side. Bonus points are also available if a raider is able to cross into the opposing teams zone, touch their bonus line, and return safely to their own side without being taken down. On top of all of this, the raider must hold their breath for the entire time they are in the opposing teams zone, which is where the swimming skills come in.
The sport is most popular in Southern Asia, though its relevance is growing significantly in the UK as well. India is generally considered the centre of the Kabaddi universe, and has won the first three iterations of the Kabaddi World Cup. Recently, a professional Kabaddi league, known as Vivo Pro Kabaddi, was started in India. The league has 12 teams and televises its most popular matches on Star Sports.
After watching (and enjoying) my first Kabaddi match online, the next question that came to my mind was: do people play Kabaddi near me? And, if so, can I join? While it appears the local Kabaddi community is vibrant enough to warrant the construction of a $3.7 million dollar stadium in Surrey, I’d personally never seen or heard of Kabaddi being played in the Vancouver area. However, a quick google search revealed the BC United Kabaddi Federation and the Vancouver Kabaddi Club as two of the most prominent organizing bodies in the region, with opportunities for those new to the sport to give it a try. Now that my interest in and desire to play Kabaddi has been sparked, I guess it’s time to start preparing for the 2020 Canada Kabaddi Cup.