National Sports Day: From Lawn Bowls to Pickleball... Here are five offbeat sports that you probably didn't know about

Ahead of National Sports Day, FPJ brings you sports that are in spotlight on national and international level

Neha SinghUpdated: Saturday, August 27, 2022, 08:33 PM IST
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Sports in India have come a long way. Earlier, sports meant cricket or tennis at the most. However, today, some new sports and games have been gaining attention. The majority of sports, including boxing, wrestling, archery, hockey, etc. have produced world-class athletes. India recently won Gold in Lawn Bowl at the Commonwealth Games. On the occasion of National Sports Day (August 29), here are some offbeat sports that also gaining popularity and a new fanbase.

Lawn Bowls

Since the 13th century, bowls have been played in England. It has its origin in ancient Egypt. Many people compare lawn bowls to a combination of curling and ten-pin bowling. In ten-pin bowling, the objective is to knock out every pin at the end of the lane. In lawn bowling, the team must get the ‘bowl’ (the ball) as close to the ‘jack’ as possible.

The jack is smaller and lighter than the bowl, and it is either white or yellow. The lead bowler, who starts the four-person event, is followed by the second and third bowlers. The team’s captain is the final bowler, known as the ‘skip’. Each team member receives two bowls for every round. The teams trade sides after each of the eight bowlers has taken two shots. Each match in the four-team competition concludes after 15 rounds, with the team with the most points winning. This year, India win a gold medal in the women’s fours format at the Commonwealth Games. The team comprised Rupa Rani Tirkey, Pinki (who was only given her first name), Nayanmoni Saikia, and Lovely Choubey.

Mix Martial Arts

Mixed Martial Arts involves competitors from any martial discipline such as boxing, karate, jiu-jitsu, wrestling, and judo, competing under rules that allow for stand-up and ground-kicking, punching, and grappling techniques. Mixed Martial Arts was a strange concept in India almost twenty years ago. But it has been raging in the background for a while now. The sport has gained much-deserved attention and has been becoming popular since 2018.

Pickleball

Joel Pritchard, Bill Bell, and Barney McCallum came up with Pickleball in 1965. It is an outdoor sport that is played on a badminton-size court with a perforated plastic ball (whiffle ball). This sport is a combination of tennis, badminton, and ping-pong. Unlike tennis, it also has a non-valley zone, which is also called ‘the kitchen’. It can be played in singles, doubles, and mixed doubles. Dhiren was part of an Indian contingent that excelled at the Asia Pickleball Open, which was held in Thailand earlier this year.

Sunil Valavalkar, President of The International Federation of Pickleball (IFP), says, “Since 2007, Pickleball has been growing organically. In India, we are witnessing a similar trend due to the dynamic leadership of AIPA’s chairman, Arvind Prabhoo. Since 2018, growth has accelerated. From every state in India, we are getting nearly 50 inquiries a day. AIPA is trying its best to cater to those inquiries and start new academies all across India.”

Equestrian 

The term equestrianism is derived from the Latin word Equus, which means horse. It’s a niche sport that a certain section of society enjoys. There are three types of Olympic equestrian sports: Dressage, Three-Day Eventing, and Show Jumping. Fouaad Mirza is the first Indian equestrian to qualify for the Olympics in two decades. His performance in the 2018 Asian Games, where he won two silver medals in individual and team events, has been described as nothing short of miraculous.

Esports

One of the factors contributing to India’s economy’s resilience during the pandemic was online gaming. Esports comprises players competing in a multiplayer environment. The Esports industry has been around for more than 10 years. However, it gained prominence during the lockdown.

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