Echoes of ‘kabbadi and kabbadi” in Hong Kong build bridges across the different cultures

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A few years ago two Chinese Anthropologists set up an Hong Kong team to encourage inclusion in a city that is, despite its status as an international hub, may be uninclusive especially with regard to non-Chinese and non-white residents. The sport is now being played across all schools.

Hong Kong, China: In the shadow of high-rises, located on the outskirts of Hong Kong, a group of students perform body-slams and a savage ankle-wrenching at every the weekly practice for an unorthodox sport: the old Indian game of kabaddi.

While its professional league has been gaining a large popularity in India and the surrounding countries Kabaddi — a game that is highly physical in which the goal is to take on the opposing team with brute force, is generally unnoticed outside of the region.

Eight years ago, two Chinese anthropologists established an Hong Kong team to encourage inclusion in a city that even though it is an international city, may be a bit skewed particularly when it comes to residents who are not Chinese or white.

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“We often hear that Hong Kong is Asia’s world city, but we do not have a chance to meet people of diverse cultures,” Wyman Tang, one of the anthropologists said to AFP.

The project, known as Kabaddi United Hong Kong (KUHK)–began as a single-day workshop at the local university. The project has since expanded to over 80 schools and social organizations and has attracted more than 8,000 people participate.

Royal Sunar, a coach at KUHK was shocked discover the sport he played in his youth to be taught by Hong Kong.

Teams score points by sending”raiders “raider” to their rival team, who attempts to tag an opponent quickly and then return to their own side.

The defense teams attempt to stop the raider from escaping and escaping, which usually involves teams that pile-on in full.

Nepali immigrants Rojit Sharma joined KUHK in 2019. KUHK in the year 2019.

Kabaddi for him was the opportunity to meet Chinese acquaintances for the very first time, as well as an opportunity to learn Cantonese.

However, the 22-year-old added that, off the field people of ethnic origin within Hong Kong have to fight to be recognized in the sense of being “local”.

He’s not a stranger to the glaring discrimination.

“When I came to Hong Kong, whenever I took public buses or public transportation and I tried to sit, people sitting next to me would disappear,” he told AFP.

Advocate groups say that his experiences are common.

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“I believe there are some important problems within Hong Kong related to race,” said Shalini Mahtani as the CEO of a similar organization known as Zubin Foundation. Zubin Foundation.

She claimed that South Asians suffer every day stigmatization throughout Hong Kong, giving examples of people being told that their skin is too dark during job interviews , or being barred by landlords from renting homes.

“They aren’t the correct color in a region which is extremely sensitive to colour,” she added.

The coronavirus epidemic has exacerbated the discrimination.

The area in the city that houses large numbers of South Asians, was among the first areas to be put under lockdown an official from the health department provoked anger by suggesting that residents of ethnic minorities might have spread the disease due to “they tend to have a meal and smoke, drink alcohol, and even chat”.

Critics have pointed that the same could be said about Cantonese culture or the numerous loud bars crowded with white-collar “expat” foreigners.

Mahtani blames the problem in part in part on the system of education.

“The truth is that many Hong Kong Chinese have never have experienced working with ethnic minorities,” she stated.

It was also the case in the case of Christy Tai, a final-year university student, who joined her kabaddi club after trying it and gaining a love for the group’s “team attitude”.

She added that sport is an effective way to get over the language barrier.

“We have to communicate with everyone on this group… In conversations it’s not just about sports however, we can also discuss our lives and our routines, or anything else,” she said.

Hong Kong still has a lengthy way to go before it can start a professional kabaddi league However, the the league’s founder Tang is thrilled with how the sport has taken off within the city.

“As so long as players adhere to the same set of rules, then you’ll be able to take pleasure in the game,” Tang said.

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