METRO PLUS

All in the game

ON A MISSION Iranian team at the First Asian Women Kabaddi Championship 2005 held in Hyderabad

ON A MISSION Iranian team at the First Asian Women Kabaddi Championship 2005 held in Hyderabad  

The Iranian and Bangladeshi women who took part in the Asian kabaddi championship in Hyderabad recently were on a path-breaking mission. Competing for the first time in an international kabaddi championship, they were determined to script a new chapter in the sporting history of their respective countries. "We have come here to demonstrate how far Iranian women can go in a sport which was alien to them till recently," said manager Mohammad Reza, who also happens to be the joint-secretary of the Asian Federation. Iran also sent a woman referee — Zahira Rahim Najadnoudjeh who officiated in the matches.

Did the team face any problems back home in playing kabaddi? "No. In fact, in the men's category we have a 500-year-old history in the sport. In Iran it is called Zouo. And due to this the Government is giving us a lot of encouragement," said Reza.

Referee Zahira said that the dress code for the Iranian women - a scarf and a full-length trouser — is in conformity with traditions. "Consequently, all are satisfied and the sport attracts big crowds in Iran. The national championship features about 30 teams," she said. Interestingly, Pakistani and Indian coaches have been helping Iranians to hone their skills.

As for the Bangladeshis, they were very eager to prove themselves. Captain Maleka Parveen said that they had absolutely no problem in playing kabaddi.

"We train with the men's team back home. Though women's kabaddi has come up recently, we are hopeful of doing well. That our Government gave a grant of three lakh takas to the federation, shows the kind of support the sport is getting now," she said.

Not surprisingly, the Iranians and the Bangladeshis are hoping that women's kabaddi will be included in the 2006 Doha Asian Games so that they may prove a point or two to the sceptics.

V.V. SUBRAHMANYAM

Recommended for you