It’s a national sporting treasure in India, and now the game that has the equivalent fanfare of rugby is fully establishing itself in New Zealand.
The bullrush-like sport of Kabaddi is opening for its 2019 season in New Zealand with the first training session held last weekend.
The sport began here in 2012 when South Auckland dairy owner Tara Singh Bains began asking around for female players to join a Kiwi Kabaddi team.
“[He asked], ‘Do you know any rugby girls that would be interested in playing a traditional Indian sport?’” Kabaddi player Elizabeth Motu told 1 NEWS Now.
With the help of rugby players Aroha Savage and Rawinia Everitt, the sport now has an indoor and outdoor team that are competing overseas, playing in front of crowds of 40,000 to 50,000.
“Our first comp that we ever went to was at the World Cup and we played India for the first game and we lost,” says Ms Motu.
“The margin was huge. However, we met them again in their finals and the margin closed. So every time we’ve played India in a World Cup, the margin has closed.”
The sport - which attracts athletes from MMA, wrestling and rugby - is a mixture of tiggy, wrestling and tag on a volleyball court.
“It’s 30 seconds, go out do your damage, touch the offenders – as many offenders as you can - and make it back into your quarter of the court,” Ms Motu explains.
“On the defensive side it’s about trying to stop the person from achieving their goal by touching one of their offenders and making it back.”
Having taught themselves skills initially from YouTube, the team is now vying for the World Cup in Malaysia this time, with help from a coach.
A men’s team is also getting into shape with hopes of competing at the World Cup in April.