Mumbai: One of the biggest success stories of the 3rd Asian Beach Games, which is in progress at Haiyang in China, has been kabaddi even though the host country is not competing in the team sport.

Having taken over the prime beach volleyball venue in Zone D of Fengxiang Beach, kabaddi has enjoyed big and noisy crowds on the first two days of the competition, according to the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA).

Either the novelty value of the South Asian village game is capturing the imagination of the locals, or the exotic jungle beat of the "kabbadi-kabaddi-kabaddi" signature song is luring the curious to take a closer look, OCA's news letter stated.

The spectators enjoy, laugh and smile at some of the more desperate attempts of the lone attacker to elude the posse of defenders and there is the occasional collective wince as an attacker is felled with a rugby-style big hit and then battered into the sand by the whole team.

"I thought it would be very difficult to understand because I did not know the rules, but after watching it for a few minutes and listening to the explanations and the commentary, I found it very interesting," the news letter quoted a Chinese spectator as saying.

"I even checked it out on line on my cellphone, and discovered it has a 4,000-year history and is from India. It is nice that we can see this in China," she added.

Another spectator likened kabaddi to China's traditional game of 'Eagle grabs chicken' that involves one attacker, the eagle, trying to tag the chickens, which are protected by the mother hen.

"We play this in childhood and I think kabaddi reminds many people of this game. The spectators are very glad to see this game here. It is a new thing, a game more than a competition," she said. In the competition, Thailand women have proved to be a surprise packet as they vanquished Sri Lanka 65-35, the newsletter said.

Combining lightning speed and reflexes in attack with a well-drilled and ferocious defence that would make a New Zealand rugby player proud, Thailand devoured Sri Lanka in a preliminary round match.

With silver medals in the previous two Asian Beach Games, and at the 16th Asian Games in Guangzhou in 2010, the Thais are on the rise in women's kabaddi and plotting to topple kabaddi giants India, according the OCA newsletter.

"We are getting better after winning the silver medal in Guangzhou," said Thailand team manager Charin Samornpitakul.

"We have more players now and we are preparing for two big events in 2014 - the 17th Asian Games in Incheon, Korea, and the 4th Asian Beach Games at home in Phuket. Before that we have the Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games, also at Incheon, in 2013, so we have to make good preparations for the next two years," the team manager added.

The Thais are coached by an Indian, Ramesh Bhendgiri.


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