Kabaddi, which first originated in Punjab, is a sport currently played in many other parts of the world, but South Asia and typically Punjab is its main center. The game requires immense physical strength, along with technical dexterity. The game is played between raiders and stoppers, each comprising several players. One raider must go into the opposition court, make physical contact with one of the four stoppers who stand together in a half-formed ring, and then come back inside their own team's court to score a point. For men's matches, the rectangular court is 12.5m by 10m, while for women's matches, the court measures 10m by 8m. Each team takes up women's one-half men's of the court, split in half by a center line. If a raider or stopper steps out of the designated court area, the point is awarded to the other team.
If the raider slips out of bounds or is caught by the defending team before they reach their half within the window of 30 seconds, they lose a point. There is a five-minute intermission between the two 20-minute halves of the game. After the match, as with any other sport, the team with more successful raids hence better points, wins.
Kabaddi is extremely popular in Punjab, as plenty of grounds are designated for Kabaddi matches throughout both sides of Punjab. After every two or four years, a world cup is held in India or Punjab. Teams from Iran, Argentina, Australia, England, and New Zealand, have also participated in the world cup, which shows the expansion of Kabaddi from Punjab to other parts of the globe. Moreover, it has been a part of the South Asian Games since 2006 and the Asian Games since 1990. Although teams from the countries mentioned above participate in the world cup, they are not good at it. The cup is usually won by India or Pakistan, with Iran being the third-best team. Pakistan is currently the defending champions, as they beat India in the 2020 world cup final held in Lahore.
Moving on from Kabaddi's rules and how it's played on the national and international stage, there is a very strong local culture of Kabaddi. It is one of the primary sources of entertainment in rural Punjab. Most Kabaddi players who go on to represent Pakistan are mainly from Gujranwala and Faisalabad, two cities not geographically far from each other. In local Kabaddi matches, many national players also participate to showcase their talent in front of local audiences, which forms their most loyal fan base.
In the last few years, a new style of Kabaddi has also emerged in the rural areas of Punjab and has gained a lot of popularity. This style is called “chandaan waali Kabaddi” (Kabaddi with slaps). In this format, only one stopper and raider face off each other simultaneously. The players involved have to slap each other while defending or attacking, adding a layer of combat sport to the game. Most of the slap format matches manage to pull a crowd of thousands. The players involved are awarded cash prizes by the local organizers.
As with tape ball cricket, Kabaddi has benefited dramatically from streaming services. On Facebook, there are many pages dedicated to streaming matches online. The emerging players are not confined to their localities; their talent and performances reach far-off places, so they are invited to play in different parts of the province. The "Kabaddi Da Ishq" Facebook page has around 537k followers. The page is dedicated to promoting all sorts of local Kabaddi. Along with videos and pictures, there are also quirky captions. The comment section is either filled with appreciation from the fans or serious match analysis by the Kabaddi nerds, which are only far and between.
Some of the famous players who play orthodox Kabaddi from Punjab, Pakistan, whats, are:
Shafique Chishti (raider)
Irfan Mahna Jutt (raider)
Akmal Dogar (raider)
Malik Binyamin (raider)
Heera Butt (raider)
Babar Gujjar (raider)
Musharraf Javed Janjua (stopper)
Sajjad Gujjar (stopper)
Rana Ali Shan (stopper)
Mohsin Wahla (stopper)
Jani Sunyara (stopper)
Shaukat Sapaan Wala (stopper)
Some of the players who specialize in the new, Kabaddi with slaps format from Punjab, Pakistan, are:
Sohail Anwar Gondal Siraa (stopper)
Guddu Pathan (stopper)
Nazra Maachhi (stopper)
Javed Jattu (raider)
Dr. Waheed Bijli (raider)
Bataira Baloch (raider)
Ashfaq Patthaa (raider)
Jahangir Pappu (raider)
Amin Sindhi (raider)
Kabaddi is a sport that requires great stamina, physical strength, and technical knowledge of the game. Sledding is also involved in the game to add spice to the whole affair. Sadly, over the last few years, many Kabaddi players have been brutally attacked, and some have been murdered as well. Jealousy and personal animosity have been the reasons behind such attacks. However, despite the lack of state ownership, on the back of local organizers and the fans' support, Kabaddi in Punjab continues to grow and thrive.