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Taking the good with the kabaddi

By SUN XIAOCHEN in Hangzhou| China Daily| Updated: October 4, 2023 L M S


A "raider" from Thailand's men's kabaddi team is repelled by the defenders of Chinese Taipei. ZHANG WEI/CHINA DAILY

Local fans fall in love with ancient Indian sport as it finds new audience at Hangzhou Asiad

A team sport that's fun to watch and easy to get involved with, kabaddi is gaining traction at the 19th Asian Games with the top contenders dedicated to lifting the regional sport to global prominence.

At first glance, it looks like the chase-and-catch game of tag, yet at certain points also resembles a hybrid of dodgeball and wrestling, with the constant rotation of a lone "raider" taking on several defenders leaving spectators enthralled.

This is kabbadi, a game which, according to folklore, originated 4,000 years ago in the Tamil Nadu region of India, and has since evolved into a continental sporting phenomenon, as well as a symbol of cultural diversity at the Asian Games.

The contact sport involves two teams, each starting with seven players, taking individual turns to raid the opposing side's court on a rectangular mat. An attacker scores when he or she tags a defender on any part of the body in one raid and returns to his own half safely. At all times, until they return safely to their side of the court, the raider must repeatedly and constantly chant "kabaddi! kabaddi!" without stopping, which is where the name of the sport originates.

The defending team can also score by joining forces to trap and stop the raider.

Kabaddi kicked off its six-day program in Hangzhou on Monday with nine men's teams competing in matches lasting 40 minutes, and seven teams in the women's tournament, which plays 30-minute games.

Kabaddi and cricket are the only two sports that Team China did not qualify any teams for at the Hangzhou Asiad.

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