'Kabaddi' world cup diverts Surrey youth from gangs
In another “World Cup” this weekend, a wildly popular sport in Asia stormed Surrey, B.C. in an international tournament that was also aimed at steering youth from gang violence.
The contact martial arts sport is called Kabaddi. Two teams of seven players have the object of having a player on offence run into the opposing side to tag as many defenders as possible without getting tackled.
Organizers say the game is a hybrid of wresting, rugby and tag and teaches youth a respect for all and fear of none.
Kal Dosanjh spearheaded the tournament with the Kids Play Foundation. He’s also a B.C. law enforcer who says too many youths in the city have been tempted into crime with tragic consequence.
“Primarily through drugs and gangs. And part of that can be attributed to a loss of cultural identity. So why not reconnect these kids with their culture?” he told CTV News on Sunday.
Amtoj Dhaliwal played in the tournament at Bell Centre and sees the concern about youth too. “They don't really have a place of belonging. And they don't fit in. So this gives them a way to fit in.”
“There's 15-year olds getting shot now,” added fellow player Gursher Sangjha. “It's really bad. So this helps everyone.”
Kabaddi Federations have been in Canada for more than 25 years. But this is the first time that an “under age 21” Kabaddi World Cup tournament has been hosted, says Dosanjh.
“The whole focus has been on bringing pro Kabaddi players from India to play in Canada. Never was there any focus to give Canadian kids an opportunity up until Kidsplay Foundation introduced formal organized Kabaddi events,” states the foundation’s Facebook post.
The tournament’s aim is to prevent more tragedies, such as the deaths of teenagers Jaskarn "Jason" Jhutty and Jaskaran "Jesse" Bhangal. Both were gunned down in June in what homicide investigators said was a targeted attack.
With files and a TV report by Sarah MacDonald