We know how much the UK is obsessed with sports. It’s home to the most valuable football clubs in the world, the largest sporting fan clubs, and some of the most iconic events and tournaments on the planet, and the people of the UK eagerly consume sport like few others.
In recent years, the tastes of the British public have begun to move beyond homegrown sports such as football and golf towards more international sporting events. The American NFL now has a permanent base in the UK, after hosting a number of sold-out games in London attended by tens of thousands of British fans.
In addition, sports such as Aussie Rules football are also gaining a strong foothold in the British market. These trends may suggest that the growing popularity in the UK for Kadabbi, the Indian bulldog-style game that enjoys millions of followers on the subcontinent, might be more than just a fad.
For those who aren’t already in the know, Kadabbi is a team contact sport that looks like a cross between British bulldog and tag. Each match consists of two teams of seven people, as well as five substitutes per side.
Each team takes turns nominating a ‘raider’ to enter the opposing team’s side of the court. Once there, they must reach the baulk line and ‘tag’ all seven of the opposing players, before making it back to their side without being tackled. What’s more, they must achieve all of this within a single breath. This adrenaline-fuelled, lightning-paced game is split into two 20-minute halves, in which only the fittest and most agile players will succeed.
While the sport has been played in India since the 1950s, it is growing increasingly popular in the UK in recent years. Part of this popularity came about due to the large number of Indian students in the UK, who began setting up their own Kadabbi Leagues at British institutions at the turn of the last decade. Since then, the UK has established its very own national Kadabbi League, which regulates the major tournaments and sold-out matches across the country.
The sport has since gotten so popular that bookmakers have even begun to offer betting markets to UK-based fans on the most popular matches. While betting on UK matches isn’t widely available just yet, fans of the game already can place wagers on the world’s biggest Kadabbi matches that take place in India, according to Superlenny. Given the huge size of the UK’s online sports betting market, it is likely that this will continue to fuel the popularity of the sport.
Right now, there is a regular roster of Kadabbi events taking place all over London, from the trendy East End to venues in well-heeled West London. UK publications such as Culture Trip have been eagerly documenting the rise of Kadabbi in the capital, as each match gains larger and larger crowds.
If these trends continue, it is entirely possible that this Indian past time may soon become a British one too, which is great news for both India and the UK.