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UK Armymen to play kabaddi in Doaba
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 15
Fascinated by kabaddi - the queen of rural sports in India, particularly Punjab - the British Army is trying its hand at the game. Its team will participate in an open international tournament in Jalandhar on November 17 and 18.

Though the visitors have already faced the Indian Army team in a couple of exhibition games in Delhi and Mumbai, they are looking forward to the games in the home of kabaddi, the Doaba region.

The sport has become popular overseas, especially in countries where Punjabi immigrants have settled in large numbers, because of the media attention it has been getting over the years.

Several years ago, Channel 4 of England made a documentary on the sport. England and Canada have been playing host to most of invitational World Cup tournaments, which of late have been attracting players not only from South Asia but also from Africa and the USA, including Afro-Americans.

With interest in the sport on the rise in the UK, the British Army engaged Ashok Das, a national kabaddi coach and president of the England Kabaddi Association, about four months ago to help form and train the army team. The team has played a number of tournaments in the UK and their tour to India will culminate in their participation in the Jalandhar event.

The British team began its tour with a friendly fixture against the Indian Army side. The game was hosted by Brig Deepak Khurana at the Rajputana Rifles Regimental Centre in the Capital. It was a hard-fought contest which the Indian Army won 35-32.

The visiting team manager, Capt Al Reid, thanked the Indian Army for its hospitality, adding that the squad was thrilled to be in India, the home of kabaddi. He complemented the Indian team for its skill, agility and fitness.

“Sports of all kinds are important for both Armies, not only for recreation but also to develop team spirit, physical fitness and agility, which are vital for successful soldering. It is clear that kabaddi is set to take off in the British Army and there is now much enthusiasm for developing closer sporting links with the Indian Army,” he added.

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