The International Kabaddi Federation (IKF) did a stellar job not just with the organizing of a successful World Cup event in India but also for the matter of fact that the sport saw participants from across 5 continents, while the coverage saw a reach of 120 countries. To back that up, IKF and broadcasters spent the right money to build a strong PR for the event and drive interests from across the globe.
Having tasted success with Pro Kabaddi League, which saw it being a 2-times-a-year affair; the IKF were adamant on giving the Indian born sport a global feel. This led to the body going wide and having an expansive reach through the World Cup, hosting the teams it did- India, Korea, Iran, Thailand, Australia, England, USA, Argentina, Japan, Poland, Kenya and Bangladesh. Who could have imagined to see the likes of USA, Australia and Poland in there, as if a few others weren’t also surprise packages.
With the major nations coming forward and extending interest in the sport, it only augurs well for the sport and for a fact hints at the scalability of the sport.
A great job done by India was to have experts coach a few of these teams and see them learn the nitty-gritties of the sport and slowly build their teams up and excel at the World stage. With the successful completion of the event with high viewership, it is only imminent that more teams come forward to try the sport, which in itself is quite fast paced, intense and entertaining. This bodes well for a contention of the sport for the 2024 edition of the Olympics which is on a constant hunt to screen various sports and with the kind of sport kabaddi is; viewer friendly to say the least, it should have high chances of breaking through.
This edition of the World Cup also ratified any doubts persisting of it being a one team show with the likes of Korea, Iran giving a strong fight to India, while others displayed staunch improvement.
With their task cut out, India has a huge chance to globalize the game with coach exchange programs or train the trainers program. As like the other sports where the World leads India, India could arrange for initiatives across different nations and even go the extent of planting coaches so as to help other nations understand the very basics and eventually, raise the level of their game. If this can happen consistently and given the fact how easy the basics of the sport are, we can be sure of seeing a more global kabaddi on the scene and even at the Olympic stage if all goes well.
But one thing to be considered right from the outset is recognition of the sport and that it gets its due, failing which it might fail to attract more players who will then drift away to more rewarding sports.
This is what the match winner Ajay Thakur had to say:
The entire team was given Rs. 10 lakh by the Sports Ministry, and that is it. If you divide it yourself, you will realise the amount is nominal. I am not saying that we should be showered with gifts. But sporting achievements regardless of the sport should be celebrated.
The fact that the Kabaddi team, post their World Cup triumph, hasn’t been really rewarded or felicitated and the fact that millions went around when we had 2 medalists at the Olympics tells us there is work to be done.
With the right work happening and the right kind of support, it is only a matter of time before Kabaddi spreads its wings thick and fast.
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