Kabaddi to become an Olympic sport soon: Rathore.
Summary: India's sports minister says it has all the ingredients to attract fans
K.R. Nayar, Chief Cricket Writer
Dubai: "Kabaddi will soon become a global sport," remarked India's Sports Minister Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore.
Speaking on the rising popularity of the sport soon after India defeated Pakistan in the opening match of the six-nation Kabaddi Masters Dubai tournament at the Al Wasl Sports Club on Friday, Rathore said: "Kabaddi has got all the ingredients that are needed to become an Olympic sport.
"Today, 33 countries are playing kabaddi and the fact that it has come to the UAE now crossing the Indian borders is an extremely positive step. Shaikh Nahyan Bin Mubarak Al Nahyan (Minister of Tolerance) coming to witness the match and Dubai Sports Council's support for this tournament augurs well for the organisers. I am sure many more countries will soon be playing Kabaddi. I could sense the excitement here."
An Olympic silver medallist shooter in 2004 Athens Games, Rathore went on to explain why Kabaddi can become an Olympic sport. "Kabaddi has got the speed, agility, power and teamwork. When kabaddi comes to Olympics, hopefully India will clinch the first gold medal."
Rathore said the myth that only cricket as a sport can flourish in India is being dispelled. "There is room for every sport in India. There was a time when people used to say that cricket is like a banyan tree and nothing else can grow around it. Now, many sports are popping up in our country. There is no need for us to give an official position to every sport for people to start following it."
Rathore, who retired as Colonel after serving the Indian army, had won multiple medals at the Commonwealth and Asian Games before becoming a politician also explained why Kabaddi is winning more fans. "Cricket became so popular after Kerry Packer (TV mogul) staged the Benson and Hedges series in the Seventies with the game being telecast showing various angles of the action. The same is happening to Kabaddi with action being shown from nice angles to bring excitement."
Rathore is also delighted that Kabaddi players are becoming stars in their own rights. "When Kabaddi players now walk into airports, people want to take pictures with them. Now children from everywhere want to know where they can train to become a kabaddi player. These are all good signs."
As India played Pakistan in Kabaddi in Dubai, Rathore was asked why the Indian cricket team is not being allowed to play Pakistan in Dubai. "This Kabaddi tournament is a multinational event and hence, we did not have any objection," he added.
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