Kabadi: The National Game of Bangladesh

As the National Game of Bangladesh, Kabadi is enjoyed by thousands of players, and even more spectators, around the country. Played by two competing teams, Kabadi is an outdoor activity played on a rectangular court of 12.5 by 10 meters in size, which is divided in two by a white line. Although each team consists of twelve players, only seven members of each team will be on the court at one time. The other team members remain on the sidelines as extras. To monitor the game there are two linesmen, a timekeeper, a referee, a scorer and two umpires. The decision as to who starts the game is decided by tossing a coin and it is played in 20-minute sessions.

In order to score a point, a team member, referred as the ‘raider’, must take a deep breath and repeatedly say the word ‘kabadi’ without releasing his breath while at the same time dashing into the opposing team’s area and touching as many players as possible. The team being raided must try to capture the raider, as should he return to his side without releasing his breath, a point is scored for his team. Players who have been touched are out. Teams alternate between being the raider and defenders.

Formed in 1973, the Bangladesh Amateur Kabadi Federation formulated rules and regulations which are applied when playing at National or International level. The first Kabadi test was played in Bangladesh against a team from India in 1974, with a return test taking place in India in 1979. The sport was included in the Asian Games in 1990, with Bangladesh winning the silver medal. The Bangladeshi team also won the bronze medal for Kabadi at the 2006 and 2010 Asian Games.

Informally, Kabadi is known as Ha-Du-Du, or the ‘game of rural Bengal’, and is played with varying rules depending on where it is being played. Spectator support is loud and enthusiastic and visitors to Bangladesh will no doubt enjoy watching a game of Kabadi.