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Popularity boost for Indian traditional sport of Kabaddi

India's traditional sport of kabaddi is expected to reach a new high with the establishment of a World Kabaddi League.

NEW DELHI: India's traditional sport of kabaddi is expected to reach a new high with the establishment of a World Kabaddi League.

The game, which is popular on the Indian subcontinent but never took off internationally, has gone global with franchise participation coming from the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom.

The attraction to the game is its rule simplicity for both player and fan. "We are going to the people, because ultimately spectator value is the biggest value. This game is very easy to understand," said Pargat Singh, commissioner of the World Kabaddi League.

Traditionally played on sandy ground, Kabaddi is a combination of wrestling, chanting, tag and holding breath. A raider, chanting the word “kabaddi” repeatedly, enters the other half of the opponent's team to try tag a player and return to his own half within 30 seconds. If he succeeds, the raider's team earns a point. But if he is detained and prevented from going back to his own side, then the point is awarded to the defending team.

The plan is for the World Kabaddi League to one day reach the dizzying heights of cricket's Indian Premiere League.

"Like in cricket, money came because of IPL (Indian Premiere League), and with god's grace money would come in kabaddi as well,” said Imran Bhatt, manager of the Pakistan Kabaddi Team. “The Kabaddi League has started and I am very hopeful that more sponsors will come and the spectators too will encourage this game. It's a powerful game and people love to see powerful games."

It may be a daunting task but the World Kabaddi League is determined to succeed in reviving the ancient sport and win over many new fans from around the world.