Friday, November 19, 2004

Now a Kabaddi World Cup

Mumbai, Nov 19 (IANS): It may not be in the same league as the grand tourneys of soccer or cricket, but the Kabaddi World Cup which begins here Friday with 12 international teams participating has aroused much curiosity. The World Cup at the Birla Kreeda Grounds in downtown Mumbai will see teams from 12 countries, including Britain, the West Indies, Canada and Japan in addition to old favourites like India and Nepal. Pakistan is not participating, depriving the tournament of much of its excitement.

The teams from the West are essentially made up of non-resident Indians, according to tournament sources. Organised by the South Kanara Sports Club (SKSC) to mark its 50th anniversary, the winning team is set to bag Rs.200,000 - not much if you consider prize money for other global sporting contests, but with airfare and accommodation thrown in courtesy sponsors it is not a bad deal for the visitors. About Rs 5 million ($110,755) was spent on the airfare of the participants, organisers said.According to Jaya Shetty, general secretary of the SKSC, the first of the matches begin with India taking on Thailand.

Though the sport does not go beyond the Asian Games, Shetty hopes that it will make it to the Olympics sometime in the future."We have produced many national and international players and received recognition from the state and central government," said Shetty. He told reporters that the organisers will meet up with officials from the Amateur Kabaddi Federation of India -- the apex body of the sport -- to discuss the formation of a world body. Representatives from France, the US, Kazakhstan and Lithuania would participate in the meeting.

Kabaddi is known by various names in different countries. The Iranians call it jhoo while South Koreans call it cattlefish. The teams have been divided into three groups with the top two from each group advancing to the knockout phase.Group A: India, Thailand, the West Indies and Canada.Group B: Japan, South Korea, Malaysia and the United Kingdom. Group C: Iran, Bangladesh, Germany, and Nepal.

(Indo-Asian News Service)

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