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Divas and wrestlers to perform in UAE’s first Kabaddi league

Kabaddi Premiere League will be held at Sharjah

Gulf News

Sharjah: Bollywood and Pakistani stars are descending on Sharjah Cricket Stadium next month to thrill spectators of the first Kabaddi Premiere League (KPL) in the UAE, it was revealed yesterday.

The Kabaddi showdown will see six teams, including one from the UAE, compete in the traditional South Asian tag-and-tackle sport from February 7-10, organisers said.

Celebrities like Veena Malik, Malika Sherawat, Rakhi Sawant, Malik Arora, Yana Gupta, Hans Raj Hans, Arif Lohar, and Omar Sharif will perform on stage during the four-day event.

Organisers hope to attract 70,000 people to the venue. Schedule details for the matches and shows will be announced soon and tickets will be price at “nominal” rates of about Dh25-30, organisers said.

This is the first time a Kabbadi league cup is being held in the country, said KPL Managing Director Niaz Ahmed Jutt. Teams from the UAE, India, Pakistan, UK, Canada, and Iran are taking part.

Kabaddi is billed as the “game of the masses” due to its popularity in India and Pakistan and its simple format. No equipment is required to play the game – two opposing teams simply tag and tackle each other on an open patch of ground.

The match is divided into halves of 20 minutes each, with teams alternating between offence and defence.

The goal is to “raid” into the other half on the opponents’ side of the ground, and touch or grapple as many opponents while continuously chanting “kabaddi-kabaddi-kabaddi.” The raider must then return to his side without getting caught. The defence team looses if the raider makes it back.

The sport conjures up images of loincloth-draped wrestlers chanting “kabaddi” while trying to tackle each other on muddy patches in village fairs. The Sharjah league, however, will be a more dressed up affair.

Besides muscle power, agility and tactics, players also need strong lung capacity to keep up their non-stop kabaddi chants.

The word Kabaddi has been variously described as meaning “holding breath” and “catching hands,” both of which can be seen happening during matches.