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   Now that we are the Asian champions in kabaddi... (August 10, 1990)

Now that we are the Asian champions in kabaddi, all efforts are being made that we remain so.

An official of the Indian Kabaddi and Hu-tu-tu Association was telling me about it: "It is not enough to win the championship, we have to continue to be champions."

"That is what we said about hockey also and look where we are," the official pointed out. "As long as India alone was playing hockey, we were champion. Then, when other countries took up the game, Holland, Australia, New Zealand, England, Malaysia, South Korea, all started beating us."

"Yes," I said. "But kabaddi!"

"There are no buts about it," the official said. "Straight off the kabaddi association is starting preparations for the Hisoshima Asiad. Our men are being sent to every willage in the country to find new talent. We will then run several camps to select the best 40 among these. The governemtn is giving a grant to finance these activities."

"The government may say it has no money to send a football team to the Asian Games and where is it going to finance kabaddi," I said.

"Football teams do not win gold medals, kabaddi teams do," the official said. "We are determined that we go on winning the kabaddi gold medal."

"Right," I said.

"We need good equipment and proper grounds to play on," the official said. "Not all the centres, but the major centres will have kabaddi plots with astroturf. Because when the world starts playing the game, it will be on astroturf, and if we are not used to it we be severely handicapped, as we have been in hockey."

"Kabaddi and astroturf, the game is going to completely change," I said.

"Of course, it is going to, and we have to change with the times if we want to remain at the top of the kabaddi table," the official said. "We simply cannot rest on our laurels."

"I am glad to hear that and I wish you the best of luck in your efforts to retain the kabaddi championship," I said.

"We can only try," the official said. "The biggest mistake we made was to introduce kabaddi in the Asian Games. If we had not done so, nobody would have heard of the game and we would have remained champions for ever."

 
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