Dubai: Kabaddi, an Indian rural game, was catapulted into the limelight in Dubai on Friday as Indian Consul-General Vipul take up the gauntlet in a match to Abdullah Al Karam, chairman and director-general of Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA).
Their two teams were a star attraction at the first-ever Kabaddi League tournament to be hosted by the Indian High School on Friday to mark the visit of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s scheduled second visit to the UAE on Saturday.
The very noisy first day of the two-day tournament between 80 school teams culminated with this celebrity match held as a homage to the game as well as the brilliant synergy shared by India and the UAE.
The idea of launching a kabaddi league was ignited during the Dubai 30x30 Fitness Challenge, said Dr Ashok Kumar, CEO of IHS.
“It was during the fitness challenge that Dr Al Karam played kabaddi and kho-kho (Indian games) with the chairman of IHS, Sunil Umrao Singh, and the school staff. And that was the point of inception — kabaddi was appreciated for fostering crisis management skills, pro-activeness, and enhancing agility, lung capacity, muscular coordination and presence of mind,” said Dr Kumar.
A formidable alliance between IHS, Consulate General of India (CGI) and KHDA was formed to give students in the UAE a chance to play and enjoy kabaddi. Kabaddi is a combative sport and is believed to be akin to practising yoga, where players control their mind and body through self-control and concentration. The game triggers presence of mind, team management, SWOT analysis, physical strength and understanding of opponent’s strategy.
The tournament began with the recitation of the Indian National Anthem followed by the oath ceremony. The tournament opened with action-packed matches between school teams on the first day.
The IHS had arranged for a rural set-up with a moist sand field to play the game, trucks and tractors along the ground, and music to lift the spirits of the participants as well as the audience. The league saw some frisky action by Vipul and Dr Al Karam, who led their respective teams in the inter-government friendly match. There was much fun, laughter and genuine camaraderie shared by both the teams.
Dr Kumar added that with the successful hosting of the Kabaddi League, the school plans to organise summer training camps in affiliation with the International Kabaddi Federation (IKF) and the Amateur Kabaddi Federation of India (AKFI).
“The school will host these camps within its premises and will keep them open to all school students,” he added. “The initiative is lauded by the KHDA and CGI for bringing health and agility close to the lives of students.”