Imagine a few years from now. The popularity of IPL helps spawn IKL. IKL turns out to be an even greater success, thanks to new novel set of ingredients in it compared to IPL capturing people’s imagination. IKL teams will be smaller and clubs very many. Almost every town and city in India will have clubs and the multi-million dollar trophy would frequently be taken by clubs from previously unknown townships. World over as well, IKL would get so popular that it would not be uncommon to see Russians, Nigerians and Japaneses players constituting majority of a team with just few local lads. As they enter the stadium one by one, wearing nothing more than tight shorts, WWF wrestlers style, but with lean, handsome 6 pack frames and rippling masculine muscles, audience would go absolutely berserk !!Before you begin questioning the dress code, I must point out that IKL stands for International Kabaddi League – India’s national sports craze for the year 2020 ! A national frency far bigger than cricket ever was!!!
Welcome to the future of indigenous games…
.. at least that’s the way we would like to see it happen. In a year of London Olympics its seems right to also celebrate indigenous games as well (hence this edition) before they become totally extinct under the overwhelming pressure from established games and changing life style.
There are thousands of indigenous games that have been or are being played around the world today. It is safe to assume that while the world struggles to focus on preserving plants and animals from becoming extinct, a large number of indigenous games are destined to fade away. After all indigenous games cannot be preserved in zoos or nature reserves. They will only get preserved on paper and video clips. just like dinosaurs. And that is a huge “collateral damage” to pay for our modern life style.
Indigenous games are an intrinsic part of our heritage and alongwith our language, food, dance and music make up for the richness of our culture. Reminds us of the games that our ancestors played and the pride they had in it. Losing it is about losing a whole way of life. Remember your own childhood days, when you came rushing home from school, quickly changed uniforms and rushed out to play? The street outside and playgrounds, were filled with loud screams of cheer, laughter and dismay. We showed our skills playing a variety of games. The games would continue till late into the evening until parents dragged us back home. These days, children rush home from school and head straight for the couch, TV, computers, MP4’s and video games.
Played in an era where there was limited access to toys or sports equipments, indigenous games were created using native materials with kids usually inventing games without the need of anything but the players themselves.
With time, indigenous games evolved to more complex and demanding ones that adults played as well, bringing the whole village together. Over the years some of the games became even more skilful and evolved into an art form all by itself – as is evident in various combat games played in India. A study conducted on indigenous games segregated them into 7 different kinds based on skills that they impart:
1. Physical Skill games
2. Strategy games
3. Rhythm games
4. Chance games
5. Memory games
6. Verbal games
7. Simulation games.
Hence the versatility of indigenous games is unique and extraordinary. The flexibility of mind to think and act, in addition to adjustments of rules according to circumstances, always made indigenous games more interesting and challenging.
Perhaps the best part of indigenous games lies simply in the pure joy of playing. It is this tangible pleasure that distinguishes the indigenous games from professional sports. Nowadays professional sport players are involved in such a cut throat competition with all the money and national prestige at stake that the simple of joy of playing is lost. Instead it becomes like a war, igniting country wide passion and bringing unbearable stress on the players, promoters and audience. Professional sports is changing our lives, with parents prefering their kids to play a sport that has a better “future”. The light-hearted joy of indigenous games is considered just a waste of time.
Is there hope for indigenous games in future ? Some of the games will evolve to become mainstream – just like how cricket evolved from 5 day test matches to 50 overs to finally 20-20 format. Others may come out as video game versions and gain popularity to give a break from the current trend of predominantly combat oriented video games. Perhaps the best hope is when you decide not to take cricket bat and ball and badminton rackets on your next picnic. Instead you decide to play “gilli -danda” , “pitto” “khoko” and may be even “Kabaddi” for good measure. Who knows you may just discover an amazing “Kabaddi” superstar in your son !
By Mohan Nair