Kabaddi has risen back from the ashes. The sport which has been a traditional go-to sport back in the rural areas & villages has come back to take the limelight right in the center stage of these urban cities. This growth is not only down to the private stakeholders but the States Associations who have come forward to support them unconditionally.
One such state has never been there at the top, but was just a part of the pile, has seen steady growth over the past years. Rajasthan has slowly made its way to the rising contenders in the world of kabaddi. A team that is getting better and better and gaining the necessary experience to get crowned as the next national champions. The PKL franchise from Rajasthan was also the inaugural champions of the Pro Kabaddi League in the year 2014. This fueled the spark for the rising trend of kabaddi in the state.
Rajasthan Kabaddi Association has shown tremendous intent and channelized efforts into heightening the numbers of people picking up kabaddi, as their sport in the state.
The results only do justice with Rajasthan reaching the semi-final stage of the 67th and 68th edition of the Senior National Kabaddi Championship Men. This feat was last achieved by Rajasthan in the 63rd Senior National Kabaddi Championship Men. The juniors and women are also following their men counterparts by reaching the pre-quarters and quarter-final stages over the last few years, showing signs of steady improvements.
The vision of the State Federation is crystal clear, aligned with the growth and discovery of players and less of politics and selection bias. Rajasthan Kabaddi has set up a clear layered structure to cherry-pick the best players for the Senior and Junior Nationals with District level selections, followed by State level selection tournaments.
Father Of Kabaddi
It would be an injustice to mention Kabaddi, without remembering Mr. Janardan Singh Gehlot, the Father of Kabaddi. Janardan Singh Gehlot was the founding president of the International Kabaddi Federation and the AKFI President for 28 years before passing away at the age of 77 earlier in April this year. Mr. Gehlot dedicated a big part of his life to Indian sports, especially Kabaddi. He envisioned Kabaddi becoming an internationally recognized sport.
Kabaddi Inclusion in the Asian Games
He began working closely with then General Secretary of Olympic Council of India, Raja Randhir Singh, and Olympic Council of Pakistan General Secretary Latif Butt & Captain Siddiqui and lobbied hard to get Kabaddi in the 1990 Asian Games in Beijing, China. Several challenges were there with China not being a Kabaddi playing nation was the major one. To resolve this issue, he went one step ahead and, invited the tall well-built basketball players from Beijing Sports University, China to Jaipur. With the help of the Indian coaches, he trained them into playing Kabaddi.
This exercise encouraged them to include Kabaddi in the Asian Games by creating a Chinese Kabaddi team for the first time and finally, Kabaddi was included in the 1990 Beijing Asian Games.
The need of the hour - K7
The young players in the state were growing at a tremendous rate, youngsters coming in day in and day out. There was a need for a new structured tournament. The youngsters would need the right platform to enhance their growth further and, that's how the successful junior Kabaddi tournament- K7 coming to Rajasthan is the next step in the right direction.
K7 Kabaddi Qualifiers will be a 6-day event with 16 teams eyeing a spot in the K7 Kabaddi World Series. The teams are divided into 4 pools of 4 teams each, much like the K7 Kabaddi Qualifiers in Haryana earlier in March this year. The top selected teams will qualify for the much-awaited K7 Kabaddi World Series tentatively scheduled for February 2022.
The youngsters from Rajasthan would not get a better stage to get a taste of the professional circuit, to visualize how the life of a professional kabaddi player looks likes. And for the kabaddi-loving audience of Rajasthan, this would be the tournament that will glue their eyes right back to their computer screens.