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Australia tries its luck at the Kabaddi World Cup in Malaysia

Australian national kabaddi team Source: Supplied

The Australian team won three out of the seven matches it played at the 2019 Kabaddi World Cup in Malaysia. And India clinched the World Cup.

A fledgeling team of handpicked footy players and athletes led the Australian contingent against seven other national teams playing the ancient sport at the recently concluded 2019 World Cup Kabaddi in Malaysia.

Armed with minimal training, and almost nil exposure, the Australian team, which boasts of many Indian-origin players, tried its luck against some of the world’s best during the eight-day tournament from July 20-28 held in Melaka.

The team managed to stand its ground against Norway, Hong Kong and New Zealand but lost the remaining four clashes.

Speaking to SBS Punjabi, Jagjit Singh Gurm, the Australian team’s manager and president of Kabaddi Oceania said, “The results were far better than what we had expected.”

“It’s a new team that is stacked with many footy players who do not have any real-time experience. So keeping that in mind, I think as beginners, our team performed quite well,” said Mr Gurm.

He conceded that Australia kabaddi players have a long journey ahead if they intend to take on reigning world champions, India that has dominated the sport for nearly three decades and continued its winning streak in Melaka, with a resounding world cup victory.

“We are not yet ready to face reigning world champions India or for that matter Taiwan who are playing this game for many years now,” added Mr Gurm. 

Australian Kabaddi Team
Australian Kabaddi Team with their Manager Jagjit Singh Gurm at the Kabaddi World Cup, Malaysia.

Kabaddi is a rough, contact sport that is thought to have originated in India.

The sport can be best described as a mixture of team tag and wrestling that sees two teams of seven players, trying to outscore each other by getting their opponents out, either through a raid or a tackle in a match that lasts for 40 minutes.

The teams take turns sending a player called ‘raider’ in the opposing team’s half of the court, whose job is to run to the other side, touch one of the defence players (stoppers) before returning to his side, all the while chanting ‘kabaddi, kabaddi.’

Over the years, the sport is played in various styles and formats, like box or circle being the famous ones.

The sport which tests the agility, concentration and muscle power of the players and requires minimal equipment was included in the 1990 Asian Games in Beijing for the first time as a regular discipline.

India’s men and women teams were the winners at the World Cup Kabaddi, Malaysia.
India’s men and women teams were the winners at the World Cup Kabaddi, Malaysia.

Mr Gurm now hopes that his team’s exploits in Malaysia will inspire more youngsters in Australia to take an interest in the sport.

“It’s just the beginning. And we hope the experience would encourage more Australian youth to take part in Kabaddi. We are encouraging players from across all states to take interest in the sport."

He believes the next natural step would be the sport’s inclusion in the Olympics.

“For a sport to be considered to be part of the Olympics, it must be widely practised around the world. So all Kabaddi playing nations need to put in efforts to ensure its inclusion in Olympics,” said Mr Gurm.

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