A moment of recognition

A moment of recognition

Women's Kabaddi Challenge

The Indian women team has won three consecutive gold medals at the Kabaddi World Cup championship since its inception in 2012, and had also emerged victorious at the Asian Games in 2010 and 2014. Despite these glorious victories at international championships, their success stories are often buried inside the last pages of newspapers.

However, this year, the winds blew in favour of women kabaddi players, as the Pro Kabaddi League organisers launched the inaugural Women’s Kabaddi Challenge (WKC), whose first match was played in the last week of June. Since then, the Arjuna Award captains of the three teams – Mamtha Poojari (Fire Birds), Abhilasha Mhatre (Ice Divas) and Tejeswini Bai(Storm Queens) have been overwhelmed by the response this platform has given to women players, and are optimistic that more girls will take up the sport.

 “Since it has always been considered a male sport, there was a time when people didn’t associate girls with kabaddi. But ever since we started playing for WKC, we have managed to reach many households as the game is telecast live on television. The perception of people has changed and they have started recognising us,” Poojari tells Metrolife.

“What was once considered to be a game played only in villages is now being played by children living in metropolitan cities like Bangalore. I was extremely happy when I saw a group of girls playing the sport in my apartment. It shows that children are showing interest in the game,” says Bangalore-based Arjuna Award player.

Kabaddi, basically a contact sport has seven players on each side and is played for 30 minutes. The core idea of the game is to score points by raiding into the opponent’s court and touching as many defence players as possible, without getting caught, in a single breath.
And while charging at the defence, the player has to chant ‘kabaddi kabaddi’, continuously.

This format, according to Mhatre, makes this game both – an individual and a team sport, and unlike other games, a player has to depend completely on the strength of her body.

“Kabaddi is a no-equipment game. So, we have to use all our body parts and try to reach the finish line. The techniques involve jumping, sliding and rolling and the players have to build their speed, agility, and shoulder and core power,” she says.

In different parts of the country, the game is known by different names: ‘chedugudu’ in Andhra Pradesh, ‘sadugudu’ in Tamil Nadu and ‘hu tu tu’ in Maharashtra. And some of the basic skills that one has to master to be at the top of the game are — controlled breathing and movement of hands and feet.

“Compared to other games, there are lesser training facilities for us. Women players’ need good training centres so that they can make a comeback if they are injured,” says Bai who was injured while playing the game and had to undergo surgery in 2011.

All of them feel that if jobs for kabaddi players are opened in sectors other than Railways and Police, more women will take up the sport because it will offer better future prospects.

“I belong to a poor family and my father wanted me to study and join engineering or medical profession. But I wasn’t good at studies. Initially, my father used to get angry whenever I used to play, but once I started getting medals, his perception changed,” says Bai.

“There are many good players around who would like to be financially secure. If more job opportunities will come our way; more women will join this sport. There is a future in kabaddi now,” she adds

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