The ancient sport of kabbadi

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 10 January, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 10 January, 2008, 12:00am

Paper 1a

Part A

Read this description of an old sport and then decide whether the statements which follow contain information which is true (T), false (F) or is not given (NG).

Imagine a fairly small field - about one half of a basketball court. It is divided into two halves. Two seven-men (or seven-women) teams come out. Each team has an additional five players on the bench. A coin is tossed, heads or tails called and the team that wins the toss will take on the role of the attackers.

The five players on the defensive side join hands. One attacking player takes a very deep breath, and runs across the dividing line chanting 'kabbadi, kabbadi, kabbadi ...'.

He has to touch, or tag, one or more of his opponents. Obviously they will weave to and fro across the playing area trying to avoid him.

If he succeeds in touching any of them, their tactics change. Now they aim to stop him from escaping back to his own side. They can surround him and tackle him in a number of permitted ways.

This is bad enough for the attacker (or raider, as he is usually called), but the real pressure comes from the fact that he must get back over the line into his own half before he takes another breath. So he has to run, tag, dodge and escape while all the time repeating 'kabbadi' and not taking a breath. Clearly the game takes a lot of practice and skill for if he fails to get back home before taking a breath, the raider is out and has to leave the field.

There are different versions of the sport (and we apologise to any serious players of the game reading this as we are simplifying for the majority of readers who will not have heard of kabbadi before).

In some versions, any tagged players leave the field and basically the match ends when one team has no players left. In others, the tagged players continue playing but one point for each is added to the attacking team's score. There is also a version in which getting an opposing player out means you can bring back one of your own tagged players.

Once the fate of the raider has been decided, the roles change and the first team join hands ready for a raid from the second. This alternation continues, if you are playing the timed version of the game, for 20 minutes, at which point everyone gets a well-deserved rest of five minutes before changing ends to play out the second half of the match.

Kabbadi is an Indian sport whose origins go far back in time. At present it is most popular in the north of the country and is particularly associated with Punjab. India's neighbours also play the game, and it is spreading. Kabbadi has been part of the Asian Games since the 1990 Beijing Games.

In addition to South Asian nations, Malaysia, China and Japan regularly enter teams (though so far India always seems

to win).

There has in fact been a big drive to popularise the sport in Japan as it has some similarity to sumo wrestling. At regular intervals Canada hosts an international tournament in which western nations (Canada, the US and the UK) also participate.

Britain has a large population with Indian roots and the sport has a wide following in areas where these people are concentrated. The British Army has encouraged its men to learn the sport. It has similarities to European rugby (American football), teaches self-defence and keeps you very fit.

It is also very easy to play anywhere in the world as all you need is a playing area. There is no equipment involved - undoubtedly, this is one reason for its popularity in South Asian villages. It is also hoped that a kabbadi tradition will attract more British citizens of Indian origin to join the armed forces.

It looks as if there is a bright future for this ancient and exciting sport.

True or False

1 The raider can only tag one player per raid.

2 The word 'kabbadi' comes from Iran.

3 Players should not breathe during the game.

4 The game is played on a field about the same size as a football pitch.

5 If the raider breathes while being held by the defenders, he is out of the game.

6 The game is only played by men.

7 The game involves a lot of running.

8 A full team consists of 12 players.

9 The Canadian tournament is televised around North America.

10 An entire game takes one hour.

11 The game suits people with few sports facilities.

12 The defenders must keep their hands linked throughout the raid.

13 The teams change ends after every raid.

14 Bonus points are awarded if a raider manages to tag all the defenders.


1. F; 2. NG; 3. F; 4. F; 5. T; 6. F; 7. T; 8. T; 9. NG; 10. F; 11. T; 12. NG (but true); 13. F; 14. NG