Far From the Batting Crowd

If you draw up the Indian demographic into a chart, you will find two clearly defined sections. The greater of the two are cricket lovers — young and old, men and women — for whom Gavaskar, Tendulkar, Dhoni, and Kohli aren’t mere athletes, but the avatars of the gods. On the other, drastically smaller, almost microscopic side are people like yours truly, to whom the ‘Gentlemen’s Game’ is at best a dull toothache — something that draws mild curiosity but not our complete attention.


But fear not, my broskis. With India’s interest in less-mainstream sports slowly growing, local teams and clubs are sprouting up across the country, creating future generations of rugby, ultimate frisbee, and even ice hockey players! Here are some of them that scored a goal in our hearts.


Ladakh Women Ice Hockey Foundation

To most of us reading this, the thought of splashing 3,000 liters of water on a frozen lake bed, between 8 PM to 3 AM, in subzero temperatures is sure to send a chill down our spines. But for the young women from the Ladakh Women’s Ice Hockey Foundation, this is how training begins. Over the last couple of years, these brave players have assembled every winter at the Gupuk Lake — the world’s highest ice rink — to practice their skills and play the sport they love the most. As you can imagine, their journey has been anything but easy. Whether it comes to funding or facilities, they have had to knock on several doors in their two years of existence — even going so far as to borrow jerseys and equipment from the men’s team. In 2017, Mumbai-based indie filmmakers, Batul Kapasi and Shuvro Ghoshal documented their journey to select and fund a team for the 2017 Asian Ice Hockey Women’s Challenge Cup, giving them more international recognition. To know more about these upstanding women, click here.


Delhi Hurricanes Rugby Football Club

If you think rugby union is restricted to big Kiwis and quick-footed Wallabies, think again. Since 1871, Indians have been playing rugby at one level or the other and more than 96 clubs are spread across the country today! These days, the Delhi Hurricanes Rugby Club, following their 2017 win over longstanding champions, Indian Army Reds, leads the All India and South Asia Rugby Tournament rankings. As the name suggests, the Hurricanes are based in Delhi and have contributed over 30 players to the national rugby team since their inception in 2004. Many former Hurricanes players have made their mark off the rugby field too. One of them is Siddharth Malhotra, from ‘Student of the Year’, who played with the club before making it big in tinsel town.


Airbenders Ultimate Frisbee, Bangalore

What sport requires you to have the flexibility of a yoga practitioner, the raiding abilities of a kabaddi player, and the precision of an archer? The answer is ultimate frisbee. And if you play for Bangalore’s Airbender team, you’ll need all this and more! The ultimate ultimate frisbee club, Airbenders was founded in 2012 and has only flown higher and higher since then. As we all know, any gain demands it’s fair share of pain — and the Airbenders are no shrinking violets when it comes to this. In fact the club’s weekly training and fitness sessions are known to be so intense and demanding that they have gained a mythical status among the best ultimate frisbee players in the country. And the results speak for themselves. Back in 2017, the Airbenders were the only Indian team to take part in the Asia Oceanic Ultimate and Guts Club Championship (AOUGCC) at Manila, Philippines, where they were placed 13 out of 22 Asian clubs.


Chess Boxing Organization of India, Kolkata

Checkmate and knockout are nearly as — if not more — different than chalk and cheese for most sports enthusiasts. But there’s one sport where players can win by either methods — the eccentric, yet highly entertaining, sport of chess boxing. The brainchild of Iepe Rubingh, a former Dutch performance artist, chess boxing is steadily gaining popularity in India thanks to the efforts of the Chess Boxing Organisation of India. This Kolkata-based body is headed by former Indian kickboxing and karate champ, Montu Das and has been instrumental in bringing the 2017 Amateur World Championship to Kolkata. If you are considering taking up the sport, be prepared for a whole lot of mental and physical huffing-and-puffing, as opponents have to contest 5 rounds of boxing and 6 rounds of chess, before a match comes to an end.


Sepak Takraw

Anyone with even a passing interest in volleyball will tell you how big a role hands play in the sport. Now imagine if the rules allowed you to only use your legs, torso, or head to get the ball across the net? Seems impossible? Welcome to the world of Sepak Takraw! A Malaysian sport played between teams of three players each, Sepak Takraw is making huge waves in the North East. In fact, many players from established football teams are joining its ranks, with dreams of smashing their way to glory. A very logical step, considering the Indian national team counts as one of the best in the world and even claimed silver in the 2017 Asian Sepak Takraw Championship.


Far From the Batting Crowd If you draw up the Indian demographic into a chart, you will find two clearly defined sections. The greater of the two are cricket lovers — young and old, men and

Slava Yurthev Copyright