Traditional Indian sport of langdi could see ‘achche din’ soon

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Panaji, March 22 (IANS) It was perhaps around 60 years ago, says Rama Kerkar, a 66-year-old housewife from Mapusa, that she last played landgi with her friends and neighbours.

“We hardly had television at the time. Friends and neighbours would gather in the evenings. We would split ourselves into two groups. Every two minutes, one person from each group would chase the rest by hopping and running after our opponents on one foot. It was tiring, but there was so much thrill,” Kerkar recalls.

Langdi, she rues, has all but disappeared from the fun radar of children today, who are more obsessed with either mainstream sports like cricket, football or mobile and computer-based games.

But if one goes by the newly nominated president of the Asian Langdi Federation and Goa’s sports minister Ramesh Tawadkar, traditional Indian sports like langdi, which was once extremely popular in western India, may still have hope.

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Tawadkar claims that the langdi is being pushed as a preparatory sport for young footballers in Europe and could well see ‘aachche din’ in the coming years.

“The BJP government both in Goa and the centre is committed to promoting more than 50 traditional Indian sports which are slowly disappearing or fading from public memory. Langdi is one of those sports. The federation plans to make langdi not just popular in Goa and India, but in the rest of Asia too. It is an exciting and energetic sport and helps development of leg muscles and body balance,” Tawadkar told IANS on Tuesday.

Some decades ago, langdi, like kho kho, was a popular game played by children in western India, especially in states like Maharashtra, Goa and Karnataka, where members of two teams would run and tag opponents while hopping on one leg.

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Interestingly, the Mumbai University introduced langdi as a sport at the college level two years ago to encourage fitness amongst its students.

Tawadkar claims that awareness about the sport is also being created in other South Asian and South East Asian countries, where the sport was known to have a presence in the past.

“As part of the federation’s brief, we are promoting the game in Sri Lanka, Nepal, Singapore, Bhutan, Pakistan, Malaysia,” Tawadkar said.

Langdi, says Tawadkar, also has the capability to ease stability of movement and strengthen leg muscles, which is why the promoters of the sport were trying to popularise it amongst young footballers in Germany. “We are making efforts to promote it among football players as a base game,” Tawadkar said.

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The federation, the sports minister said, would be hosting the second edition of the Asian Langdi Competition, which is scheduled to be organised in Sri Lanka in August.

The first Asian Langdi competition was held in Thailand last year.

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