Kabaddi, the game that was nowhere in the headlines having lost its recognition in the era of ancient India, is now reckoned to be India's most beloved game with utmost respect after cricket. In the year 2014, Star Sports Network bragged the broadcasting rights on a franchise based Kabaddi league (Pro Kabaddi) with revamped rules that established a feeling of immense insecurity of lowered ratings. Who could have imagined that one day at the end of its fifth season, it would have 313 million viewership in the year 2017!
Kabaddi has come a long way with the game being a dusty sport played on soil to its resurrection in such a sublime fashion that this game is played on mats as of now. It hasn't just evolved in a hard physical sport played on a (13×10)m court, it is a true sentiment that gathers new enthusiasm due to its pure and forthright simplicity.
After 3,542 days, Kabaddi World Cup marked its comeback in the year 2016 after a triumphant success in the Pro Kabaddi League. It allowed 12 nations from around the globe opening its wings in the game of Kabaddi which grabbed a record 114 million views in the span of 16 days. The men in blue, India beat Iran in what was a breath-taking encounter that saw an epic turn around of events 38-29. The predetermined winners, India beat Iran in the 3rd consecutive World Cup finals, the first two which only a less number of people know about (2004 and 2007).
A tournament like World Cup arouses the feeling of deep fondness towards nationalism. As Kabaddi World Cup is on the horizon once again when it marks its return in February-March 2019, people are expected to shift their intimacy from state based franchises to the ones who'll representing their respective nation. A stat read that 30% of the new viewers tuned in to the World Cup, an upliftment towards the popularity of Kabaddi.
The success of Dubai Kabaddi Masters 2018 saw a lot of fans filling the arena at the Al Wasl Sports Club in Dubai for the highly awaited event. Kabaddi has its reach to the international level now cutting the line in the textbooks that read ,"Kabaddi is only played in India." The International Kabaddi Federation (IKF) has decided to break the barrier and organize the Kabaddi World Cup in Dubai. With a hope that the world takes Kabaddi seriously, it will be held outside of India for the very first time.
This World Cup will witness Kabaddi extending its roots with 16 nations fighting for the glory and pride of their countrymen. It was 12 nations before in 2016 which was held at The Arena by TransStadia in Ahemdabad, Gujarat. Eight teams will barge in from Asia with four of the teams getting handpicked per their medal ranking in the Jakarta Asian Games 2018, the remaining four through qualifiers. The rest of 8 will be UAE, two teams from Europe, Africa and America each and one from the Oceania.
This extension of Kabaddi will allow people to tune in to their TV from all over the world and hopefully, the deep feeling of patriotism will emerge out of their hearts. It will inspire them to draw chalk on wherever they stand, build a team for themselves and start "Kabaddi Kabaddi" with a strong endearment.
However this isn't the last goal accomplished for every Kabaddian. A hurdle of almost 50 affiliated nations' participation to entertain Kabaddi in the Olympics' berth is up in front. It will be about a matter of time when Kabaddi's future blooms just like how a sunflower blossoms with cherishes towards the sun. The day will come when the whole world watches Kabaddi, the day isn't too far.Published 23 Jul 2018, 20:32 IST