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Redemption of reputation for India: Kabaddi World Cup 2012

MUSCAT, OMAN – DECEMBER 16: Kumar Surjeet of India is held by Ibara Hussain and Wasim Sajjadof Pakistan during the Beach Kabaddi Final beyween India and Pakistan at North Al Hail during day nine of the 2nd Asian Beach Games Muscat 2010 on December 16, 2010 in Muscat, Oman.

There is a blight on the reputation of our Kabaddi team, and by extension on our country which needs to be cleaned up. The bitter taste of what is seen as an unsportsmanlike loss at the Asia Kabaddi Cup 2012 at the hands of Pakistan still rankles.

As an Indian I take immense pride in the good reputation of my country. We are the land of Ramayana and Mahabharata where the protagonists preach the importance of sticking to the right values. Our country gave birth to the great Siddarth, aka Buddha, who taught one and all the importance of doing the right thing. We belong to a culture which always takes the high road. That illusion of self righteousness is magnified when it comes to sports. Our accepted idols of Indian sports Sachin, Dravid, etc all exude righteousness. Ever polite and respectful of the opposition.

If a indiscretion occurs in a individual sport, we can swallow that as a anomaly. An outlier. Failing a drug test. Cheating or using any other unfair means to gain an advantage. One person may have been led astray by greed or misdirection from some coaching staff. its hard to digest a team as a whole doing something to put the reputation of the country in jeopardy. As happened with the Kabaddi team.

India vs Pakistan matches have a multi-dimension appeal to them. On one hand we see them as a bridge to repair and smoothen inter country relations. There is also a undercurrent of revenge/sibling rivalry here. The two countries are like siblings of sorts. Conjoined twins separated at birth. Ever bickering with each other, yet their better sense i.e. most of the masses in both countries yearn for peace. Whichever team wins, the inter country relations have a chance at improving.

Punjab deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal said at the prize distribution function of the Asia Kabaddi Cup in Lahore, congratulating the Pakistan team on winning the kabaddi cup, “Whosoever wins in India-Pakistan (East Punjab-West Punjab) games, it is Punjab that wins.”

At the Asia Kabaddi Cup, India lost on both counts. ‘It matters not if you won or lost, but how you played the game.’ We lost and there’s not much to be proud of in the way we played the game.

Looking at the video and reading the rules, it seems apparent that the Indian team made an error when Sukhwinder Singh raided the Pakistan area twice in a row. Our team committed a foul which all but assured a Pakistan victory. Then in a unsportsmanlike fashion our team walked out and refused to play. I may not have a complete picture of what occurred but it seems a stretch to place any other interpretation on what happened. Indian team committed a recognized foul. Indian team walked out while it was losing. Around the 10 minute mark in this video:

Now even if we had a good reason to walk out, the only picture the world has seen is of petulant, unsportsmanlike conduct on our part. We have been the champions of Kabaddi World Cup in all of its three editions thus far. And this is how we lost at the Asia cup.

“We were winning when the argument started and would have achieved [apparent] victory had the Indian team accepted its mistake. Even Indian officials knew their players were technically wrong.”- said Pakistan coach Tahir Waheed

That is how Pakistan sees us. An Indian when thinking of Pakistan as an opponent may think of Sunny Deol waving a waterpump and maiming the bad guys. In this case, everyone else in the world sees Pakistan as Sunny Deol. And from 1-15 December in Punjab we will have a shot at reclaiming the lost glory at the Kabaddi World Cup 2012.

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