Indian Kabaddi Team at Asian Games – The journey

8 min read
Indian men's kabaddi team

Highlights

  • Both the Indian men’s and women’s hockey teams have been in top form since last few years. The men’s team has had a glorious record of being seven-time Asiad champions! Even the women’s team has won the last two editions of the prestigious games.
  • Both the squads had a spirited run in the group stages at the Jakarta Palembang Asian Games. However, the teams missed out on the gold. It was shocking for the entire nation!
  • The men came home with a bronze, while eves got a slightly better deal with a silver.

Indian kabaddi kreedon

Kabaddi! Kabaddi! Kabaddi! Our players raided entire Asia in 1990 and have been sitting on the golden throne since. Unfortunately, they were shattered by a mighty opponent in the 2018 Asian Games. Both the men’s and women’s team had to settle for a silver medal at the Asiads. As they say, you don’t win a silver, you lose a gold. Indian Kabaddi

The defeat has definitely bolted the kabaddi team. Considering the world domination for over three decades, it is a major setback. We are sure the teams will fight back and come out of this much stronger. Till then, let us take walk down the memory lane and explore the journey of kabaddi in India.

Understanding the Game

Kabaddi is a contact sport played for a period of 40 minutes. Each team has seven players. The aim of the game is to score points by tagging the players from the other side without getting caught in a single breath. The player who attacks the other team is known as a raider, while the defense ones are called as antis.

The game is popularly known as the game of struggle, as a single player is pitted against seven. Though most people consider brawn to be major criteria in the game, it involves a lot of skill and tactics.

History of Kabaddi

Origin of kabaddi can be traced to prehistoric times. The combative sport was played in India and other South Asian countries by the beginning of the 20th century.  The basic rules and regulations were formulated in the state of Maharashtra in the year 1921. However, the game became truly official after the establishment of the All India Kabaddi Federation in 1950 and Amateur Kabaddi Federation of India in 1972. The Federation played an active role in propagating the game all over the country. Many National level competitions were organized in the next few years.

The sport first got worldwide attention after the Asian Kabaddi Championship held in 1980. Later, it was demonstrated in the New Delhi Asian Games of 1982. Soon it was included in most tournaments.

Golden Feat: Indian Kabaddi

Beijing Asian Games winning Indian kabaddi team kreedon

Beijing Asian Games winning Indian team

The game made its Asian Games debut at the 1990 Beijing Asiads. It was the begin of an exciting era in the history of kabaddi in India. The men’s team bagged the gold at the premier tournament and catapulted the popularity of the game even further.

India has dominated the game ever since by winning seven consecutive gold medals at the Asiads!  The Beijing gold was followed by the golds in Hiroshima (1994), Bangkok (1998), Busan (2002), Doha (2006), Guangzhou (2010), and Incheon (2014) Asian Games. The team won all the world cups as well.

The game became synonymous with India due to the domination.  The women’s team made a golden debut at the Guangzhou Asiads in 2010. They thrashed Thailand 28-14 to win their first gold and prove their mettle. The girls continued their stellar performance in the 2014 Incheon Asian Games with a second consecutive gold.

However, the Jakarta Palembang Asian Games brought a major shocker for all the Indian hockey fans. Both the men’s and women’s team couldn’t continue their golden run. They were ousted by Iran.

Asian Games 2018 – Journey of the Men’s Team

Head Coach: Ram Mehar Singh

Captain: Ajay Thakur

The Team – Rishank Devadiga, Rahul Chaudhari, Monu Goyat, Pardeep Narwal, Rohit Kumar. Gangadhari Maleesh, Ajay Thakur, Raju Lal Chaudhary, Mohit Chillar, Girish Ernak, Deepak Hooda, Sandeep Narwal

Indian kabaddi team men kreedon

Indian men’s kabaddi team

The kabaddi matches were held at the Theatre Garuda in Jakarta. All the group matches were breezy for the strong Indian team. First, they ousted Bangladesh 50-21. Then it was Sri Lanka’s turn to be knocked by 44-28. There was a major setback as South Korea defeated India 24-23. However, the team bounced back to defeat Thailand 49-30. The stage was set for the semifinals with Iran.

Monu Goyat, the most expensive player in the Pro-Kabaddi League, was very confident of a gold medal before the games. The Jakarta Asiads marked his Asian Games debut. He told PTI,

Yes, 100 percent. We want to continue the tradition and our aim is to bag the gold medal. We cannot think anything other than that. All the teams are good and will give their best. But the Korean and the Iran teams are good. Even the Pakistan and Bangladesh teams are good, these 3-4 teams can pose a competition. Iranian players stay and practice with Indian players and their preparation is just like our players and hence are giving a competition.”

Well, he couldn’t have been more correct about the Iranian competition. The seven times champions were ousted in the semifinals by the fiery Iranians. For the first time since 1990, the boys came home without the gold. The team was in tears and the entire camp was crestfallen after the 18-27 loss to Iran. The bronze medal was hardly any consolidation. However, the Iran team was consistently improved its performance and displayed class in the semifinals. The Iranians had come very close to defeat India in the Incheon Asiad final. This time they could get to the other side and win the gold.

Iran displayed superb class and tactics and were the much-deserving winners

Indian coach, Ram Mehar Singh, was very disappointed. He said, “The forward line did not work today and there were problems with super tackle as well.”

The former captain, Anup Kumar, who had led the gold winning team at the Incheon Asians said,

I am too stunned to react at the moment. It will take some time to accept that this has exactly happened. But let me tell you there will be a far-reaching impact of this result and repercussions will be huge.

Asian Games 2018 – Journey of the Women’s Team

Head Coach: L Srinivas Reddy

Captain: Payel Chowdhary

The Team – Kavita, Priyanka, Manpreet Kaur, Payel Chowdhary, Ritu Negi, Sonali Vishnu Shingte, Shalini Pathak, Madhu, Usha Rani Narsimhaiah, Randeep Kaur Khera, Sakshi Kumari, and Sayali Anjay Keripale

Indian kabaddi team women kreedon

Indian women in action

In their opening game, the eves outclassed Japan with a lop-sided 43-12. Their next group stage encounter was with Thailand. Once again, they displayed class and knocked out Thailand 33-23. Their next encounter was against Sri Lanka and Indonesia. By beating Sri Lanka 38-12 and Indonesia 54-22, the team registered its fourth straight win.

After the winning streak in the group stages, the girls were very confident in the semis. They finished top of their table and the next challenge was Chinese Taipei. Again, the girls were impressive throughout the game and won the match with a dominating 27-14. With this achievement, they entered their third consecutive final.

Just like their counterparts, Iranian women smashed the Indian team. The eves lost the thrilling final 24-27 and had to settle for the silver. The nation’s hopes of a gold medal in kabaddi were shattered once again. Shailaja Jain, a retired coach from Maharashtra, was working with the Iranian team for more than a year. Her training played a crucial part in the Iran defeat. Alas, the women’s team could just go a single step further than the men and the campaign came to a rather disappointing end for all kabaddi fans.

Coach Srinivas Reddy feels that the men’s defeat affected the girls. In an interview with the Times of India, he said,

They played a great match and I can’t complain. They gave their best. But the loss of the men’s team definitely had put some pressure on them. We dominated the game for so many years. It’s good to see that other teams are catching up with us. We must work to improve our game.

Indian kabaddi team women kreedon

Dejected Indian women’s kabaddi team after their defeat

The Indian campaign did end on a disappointing note. Both the men’s and women’s teams will have to analyze and bounce back. Multiple factors can be blamed for this shocking turn of events. Better team selection could have definitely helped especially the men’s team. The federation’s decision to leave out Surjeet Singh baffled many. There has been some criticism about the choice of coaches as well. The team seemed a little laid back compared to their Iranian counterparts. There was too much dependence on the captain Ajay Thakur.  Thus, his injury at the beginning of the second half was a big blow to his teammates. Also, the Pro Kabaddi League has made Indian players vulnerable in a way.

Factors are many, what is more, crucial is to get over the disappointment and move on before spiraling into a mess. All good things come to an end, but they should be replaced with better things. All of us kabaddi fans hope that the team will come that much stronger by the next edition and bring back the gold home!

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A passionate foodie, a versatile writer, and now a sports enthusiast, Mamta is always open to exploring new avenues. She has a vast experience in Web Content Writing, Editing, and Social Media Management. A self-confessed coffee and dark chocolate addict, she believes in following her heart and giving her 100% into everything she does.

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