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Auckland to host global kabaddi tournament in November

3:53 pm on 26 October 2023
A new sports ground has been completed at the Takanini Gurdwara in South Auckland.

A new sports ground has been completed at the Takanini Gurdwara in South Auckland. Photo: Supplied: Takanini Gurdwara

Organisers of the 2023 Kabaddi World Cup are preparing to welcome around 100 athletes to Auckland to compete in the sport's first global competition hosted by New Zealand in nine years.

The last such tournament was held in 2014, with organisers seeking to make it an annual affair going forward.

"The venue was the same - behind the Takanini Gurdwara. But we only had open grass fields then and courts were marked manually," said Sukhjap Singh, a member of the New Zealand Sikh Sports Complex (NZSSC) and part of the organising committee. "This time, the New Zealand Sikh Stadium is ready, and the tournament will be held here over two days - 18 and 19 November."

The NZSSC is the sports wing of the Supreme Sikh Society.

Daljit Singh, president of the society, said the global tournament was being organised to coincide with the inauguration of a new stadium that has been built behind the gurdwara.

"It's a proud moment for the entire Indian community in New Zealand, as the newly built facility is the only dedicated kabaddi stadium in the world outside India," Daljit Singh said. "We have a seating capacity of 2,500, with maximum accommodation possible for twice that number."

Kabaddi is a contact sport that has origins in the Indian subcontinent. The sport has two styles of play: a "standard style" typically played indoors and a "circle style" played outdoors.

Teams aim to score points by raiding their opponent's court, touching as many defence players as possible in a single breath and returning to one's court without getting caught.

The sport has seen something of a resurgence in India with the launch of the Pro Kabaddi League (standard style), which will celebrate its 10th edition in December.

The sport has also been a part of the Asian Games since 1990.

The upcoming New Zealand Kabaddi World Cup will be played in the circle style, with several famous players from India being the star attraction.

In addition to host New Zealand, teams from Pakistan, Canada, Australia and the United States will also be competing for the trophy.

"Out of over 80 players coming from overseas to participate in the tournament, some prominent ones are Balvir Singh, Mangat Singh, Gurbir Singh, Friyad Ali, Inderjit Kalsian and Ubdaid Ullah, among others," Sukhjap Singh said.

"Every international team is fielding 12 players each, with a few officials and support staff accompanying them."

The Indian community in Auckland is already excited about the event, and the organisers are planning to host more than 25,000 attendees over the course of the weekend.

The two-day event will include mini local tournaments involving other sports such as kabaddi, football, volleyball, sprints, basketball, hockey and netball that will be held on 18 November, with the Kabaddi World Cup round robin matches and knockout games all scheduled on the Sunday.

"With the stadium in place, we aim to make the New Zealand Kabaddi World Cup an annual affair henceforth," Sukhjap Singh said.

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