Although the national sport of India remains hockey, cricket is still its most popular. Other popular sports include football, lawn tennis, chess and golf.

India has featured on the global platform for its achievements in cricket. Cricket originated in England as far back as the 1500’s, becoming its national sport 200 years later. When the English colonialists started occupying large areas of India, they introduced the local people to this bat-and-ball team sport. In recent decades, the Indian cricket teams have travelled all over the world for important matches, winning numerous awards and creating sporting heroes for fans everywhere. The national team won the Cricket World Cup™ in 1983 and the ICC World Twenty20™ in 2007. In 2002, they tied with Sri Lanka for the ICC Champion’s Trophy™. The Board of Control for Cricket in India controls and administers this sport. Major local tournaments include the Ranji Trophy™, Deodhar Trophy™, Irani Trophy™ and Duleep Trophy™.

The national football team of India is rising in its skills and acclaim. They have repeatedly won the South Asia Football Federation Cup™. While they are not globally acknowledged for their football achievements as yet, the capable team continues to grow and develop.
Image of the 1951 Asian Games torch stamp
1951 Asian Games torch.

Traditional sports, such as Kabaddi and Gilli-danda, are very popular amongst the locals. Kabaddi was first started in South Asia and involves two teams on opposite halves of the field. Each team takes a turn to send one man into the opposing team’s half. This man is called the raider. The raider’s job is to wrestle or tag members of the opposite team and then to return to his own half of the field. This is all done without breathing. He may only resume breathing once he is back on his team’s territory.

Gilli-danda is played mostly by the youngsters living in the rural areas. The gilli and the danda are both wooden sticks, the danda being the longer of the two. The gilli is tapered on either side. The player uses the danda to hit the gilli (similar to a bat and a ball) and the rest of the game is similar to cricket. However, the gilli is not thrown to the player striking it. Rather, it is placed at an angle in a hole in the ground. The striker hits one end of it to cause it to fly into the air, at which time he strikes it.

India awards players and coaches for outstanding performances in their fields. The highest awards to receive are the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna and the Arjuna Award for players and the Dronacharya Award for coaches.

India has hosted or is hosting the following important sporting events:

1951 Asia Games™
1982 Asia Games™
1996 Cricket World Cup™
2010 Commonwealth Games™
2011 Cricket World Cup™

While India’s population remains one of the highest in the world, it has achieved relatively few international or Olympic awards. This is due to limited infrastructure, lack of resources, malnutrition and poverty, amongst other determining factors. However, as the economy, literacy rates and education initiatives of this developing country continue to improve, the outlook for a veritable sporting giant is a realistic one.

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