Welcome to a new Oxygen.ie series where our resident crazed sports guru Oisin McQueirns (Disclaimer: he neither resides here, nor is a qualified guru, nor we hope is certifiably ‘crazed’) delves into the weird and wonderful world of bizarre sports from around the planet; telling you a bit about their history, how they work, and of course what makes them so ridiculous. The third instalment in the series this week’s article looks at the Indian/Bangladeshi sport of Kabaddi.

A Brief History:
Despite being the national sport of Bangladesh, Kabaddi’s historical roots are firmly planted in India, the Southern state of Tamil Nadu to be exact. According to iloveindia.com, kabaddi was devised as a way to help young men develop physical strength and speed.

It helped to boost self defence skills, develop quick responsiveness to attacks and sharpen the reflexes of counter attacks of the individuals. Kabbadi was given the national status as a game in 1918 with a set of rules and regulations coming to print 5 years later in 1923.

The game’s popularity continued to grow with its introduction at the 1938 Indian Olympic Games and so the governing body of the sport, the All Indian Kabaddi Federation was founded in 1950. It was even introduced into the curriculum of the Indian University Sports Control Board (IUSCB) as a prime sports discipline for its students, such was Kabaddi’s popularity.

Nowadays, the sport is played at both national and international levels with a 12-country world cup played annually since 2010. The most familiar competition to us Westerners, especially if, like me, you have Sky Sports and way too much free time, is the Kabaddi Pro League which began in 2014.

This professional tournament is modelled on the Indian 20/20 cricket structure and is remarkably well run and staggeringly popular with an incredible 435 million viewers watching the inaugural season tournament! But enough about the game’s history, let’s get into the really good stuff.

Image result for international kabaddi

C’mere I want ya.

How Do You Play:
In fairness to everyone’s new favourite sport of Kabaddi, it is actually relatively easy to play by our standards. There are four different styles of the game in India as well as the international version so in an attempt to cease confusing you, even more, I will be referring to just the international version.

There are two teams each consisting of seven players and three subs. Matches take place on a 10×13 metre court. To begin, the teams take turns in sending one of their players, the “raider” into the opposition’s half. Where Kabaddi starts to get really ridiculous is what the raider must do to get a point.

Tag, you’re it

They must take a breath, ( yes, literally the thing you do to live),  run into the opposing half, tag one or more members of the opposite team, then return to their home half before inhaling again. But how does the ref know they haven’t inhaled? Surely they could just breath through their nose and run around the opposition’s half to their heart’s content? Well no, sadly that trick will not run. Because you see the raider will chant “kabaddi, kabaddi” with their exhaling breath to show the referee they have not inhaled, and if they do take that wildly forbidden breath or if they return to their half without touching an opponent, well then unfortunately THEY ARE OUTTA THERE (and also don’t score any points obviously).

Alternatively, if a defender is tagged then they can gain a point by catching the raider who tagged them before he/she returns to their half. You can also tackle or wrestle your opponent to the ground to stop them from getting back past the centre line.

Defenders may not cross the centre line (the “lobby”) of the field and the raider may not cross the boundary lines. However, there is one bonus line which can grant extra points for the raider if he manages to touch it and return successfully. Players who are out are temporarily sent off the field. Each time a player is out, the opposing team earns a point. A team scores a bonus of two points (called a “lona”), if the entire opposing team is declared out. Wait did I say this was easy? Hahahahahahahaha

What Makes It So Ridiculous:

Well for a start a key element of this sport is holding your breath which for glaringly obvious reasons is ridiculous. Also when you strip away the team and court elements it’s pretty much just a rougher more condensed version of tag, a game played by school children. The wrestling or tackling of your opponent in the sport is another quite ridiculous element as there can be some really big hits, akin to something you’d see in rugby except oftentimes it’s full 5 on 1.

Oh and there’s this pictogram too….. We may say no more.

Image result for kabaddi pictogram

The Oxygen.ie Scale Of Ridiculous Sports:

Kabaddi is mental but let’s be honest it’s not nearly as mental as our previous two ridiculous sports. You get a firm but fair 6/10.

Oisin McQueirns