Indian High School and Elite English school teams battle it out during the inaugural match of Kabaddi League 2 which is being held as part of the 30-day Dubai Fitness Challenge. Image Credit: Virendra Saklani/Gulf News

Dubai: Schools have started their participation in the month-long Dubai Fitness Challenge with a twist, by competing in Kabaddi League 2.

The first match was held on Saturday at Indian High School (IHS) in Dubai between Elite English School in Dubai and IHS, which is organising the league. All matches will be played on IHS grounds and there will be days for parents and staff to participate as well.

Kabaddi is a traditional rural sport popular in the Indian subcontinent. The objective is to enter the opponents half of the court, tag their players and successfully return – while holding breath and chanting ‘kabaddi’ repeatedly.

Guests of honour

On Saturday, the league started with an opening ceremony attended by guests of honour Dr Abdullah Al Karam, director general of the Knowledge and Human Development Authority, and Vipul, consul general of India in Dubai.

The event marked the start of IHS’s participation in Dubai Fitness Challenge, a citywide initiative for all residents and visitors to commit to 30 minutes of exercise for 30 days. The initiative started on Friday and will last till November 24.

Residents during a Dubai Fitness Challenge workout session Courtesy: Dubai Fitness Challenge

Before the matches, which included two teams from the Indian consulate competing against each other, students performed Zumba and danced on trailer trucks parked in the sports field, meant to create the rural ambience associated with kabaddi.

The guests of honour then interacted with the students, encouraging them for the matches.

Dr Al Karam told Gulf News that the league was unique in the sense that it was trying to promote the uncommon sport of kabaddi among youth in Dubai.

“It’s not only for the students, but [the league] will also be involving the parents, the teachers and school bus drivers. So it’s taking on board more people. And I think now kabaddi, which is played in India, is coming to life here too. So this league will involve more people and different experiences for Dubai Fitness Challenge,” he added.

Dr Ashok Kumar, CEO of IHS, said: “We are extremely delighted that we could bring kabaddi back to the arena during this Dubai Fitness Challenge. Kabaddi League 2 is bigger and better as the matches will be played for 30 days at a stretch by schools from all across the UAE. It is a great platform where students, parents and staff can enjoy an Indian rural game and at the same time stay fit.”

 It [Kabaddi League 2] is a great platform where students, parents and staff can enjoy an Indian rural game and at the same time stay fit.”

 - Dr Ashok Kumar | CEO of Indian High School 



Daily exercise

Grade 12 student Ashik Abdul Rahman, one of the IHS kabaddi players, said besides kabaddi he will be doing daily exercises for Dubai Fitness Challenge, such as circuit training and Zumba. “Fitness is important because it’s good for the health, and health is very important for you. Children and adults both need to be active to be fit,” Abdul Rahman said.

What is kabaddi?

Kabaddi is a traditional contact sport popular in the Indian subcontinent. The objective is to enter the opponents half of the court, tag their players and successfully return. The game is played between two teams. A central line divides the court in two equal halves, each of which is occupied by a team of seven players. A ‘raider’ enters the opponent’s half of the court while holding his or her breath and chanting ‘kabaddi’ repeatedly. The raider has to tag out as many opponents as possible without being tackled.

What is Dubai Fitness Challenge?

The Dubai Fitness Challenge started in 2017 as a citywide initiative of Shaikh Hamdan Bin Mohammad Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai. The challenge encourages every resident and visitor in the city to exercise continuously for at least 30 minutes for 30 consecutive days.

Five free “fitness villages” will run daily till November 22.

DIFC Fitness Village: Over 300 free fitness classes, among other activities

DMCC Park Fitness Village: 400 free fitness classes, plus gymnastic zone, football tournaments, etc

Kite Beach Fitness Village: 400 free fitness classes, beach volleyball, water sports zone, and more

Palm Jumeirah Fitness Village: Running clubs, pre and post natal fitness classes, plus other activities

Al Khawaneej Walk Fitness Village: Cycle clubs, bikes available for free and ladies only timings as well.