The scene before you is that from a movie: one man against seven opponents, no weapons of any kind. It will be very interesting to watch. But this is no movie. This is a typical example of a Kabaddi Raid.  Kabaddi is a game that’s much like a gladiator sport, pitting one man against several opponents in an epic battle of wills. It’s a sport like no other.

Evolution of Kabaddi

The ancient sport of Kabaddi evolved through the centuries to become the much loved game of the masses today. The origin of the sport is the subject of debate. Some claim that it originated in the South Asian Sub-Continent. While others say that it was the invention of the Ancient Persians. But most will agree that its history goes back to at least four thousand years!

Kabaddi has seen a monumental evoloution. From dusty rural fields to international arena, the sport has won hearts across the globe. There are more than 40 Kabaddi playing nations today. The sport is already inducted into the South Asian Games (1981) and the Asian Games (1990). And the Olympics may just be the next destination. Kabaddi in Pakistan is played in many variants. Circle Style is prevalent across Pakistan. But Asian Style  isn’t far behind. In fact, it is this variant – Asian Style – that has been accepted into the international sporting arena.

Winning Over the People

The homegrown sport of Kabaddi has generated interest of the masses. Those who wish to examine the sport would recognize the key ingredients without effort. It is a highly strategic sport, which demands speed, agility, strength and timing. The footwork displayed by players is unique and highly intriguing. Nasir Ali, the Captain of Pakistan’s National Team and Faisalabad Sherdils, opines that it’s all in the legwork. These are just some of the reasons that make Kabaddi interesting. The sport has unparalleled potential to grow and expand.

A typical game lasts 40 minutes, divided into two halves of 20 minute each. Two teams face each other to come out as the superior team and each team has seven players. The rules are fairly simple. A Raider from one team enters the court of the opposing team to touch or tag one or more of them and then come back to his own court without being tackled. The Defenders – members of the opposing team – must stop the Raider before he returns to his court. If the Raider is successful, he earns a point for his team. If the defenders are successful in tackling the raider, their team gets one point. The teams take turns in sending the raider to the opponent’s team. The match is over when the allotted time comes to an end.

Super Kabaddi League

Both Pakistan and India have held Kabaddi Leagues in their respective countries. India’s Kabaddi League was established in 2014 and since then has become a massive hit with the people. Astronomical viewership figures have given Kabaddi a boost. Pakistan’s Super Kabaddi League (SKL) had its very first season in 2018. The League captured the imaginations of the people and left them wanting more.

SKL is the brainchild of Strawberry Sports Management. The organization was the power behind the concept and execution of the League. SKL was the first sports league to be played entirely In Pakistan. In a first, Strawberry Sports Management has brought sports management to Pakistan. SKL is the very first of their projects. With a number of other sports leagues in their portfolio, Strawberry Sports Management has a long way to go. The company will be remembered for giving Kabaddi in Pakistan a revival.

The Future of Kabaddi

Kabaddi has come a long way from its origin. This is evident in the fact that it is played in six continents of the world. More recently, it came into attention because of England’s football team. The Three Lions, as the team is known, play it as a form of training. Their manager believes that Kabaddi is a great sport to help the team gel together. The team was seen embroiled in action ahead of the Football Worldcup in 2018.

Kabaddi possesses brimming potential. Because of this, it just might be the next big thing. No one could have imagined that a homegrown sport from South Asia could have made it to TV screens and become a favourite of the masses. In fact, no one would have believed that the sport could join the ranks of professional sports. But it defied those odds. Now, it has also expanded to all corners of the world and one can only hope that this is just the beginning.