The NHSF National Tournament is the biggest Kabaddi event of the year, with universities nationwide coming to play and watch. IC 1s have won the tournament for the last three years. Matches were nine minutes long, and there were two groups, from which four teams qualify for the semi-finals, followed by the final.
1s take home the crown
The IC 1s had a comfortable group, their first game against IC 3s. The 1s annihilated their own clubmates with a 29-2 victory. Building up momentum, they sliced through Manchester and LSE 2s with relative ease. The final group match against the UoB 2s went without incident, until one of the defenders (Felix) dashed out the raider, accidentally hitting his head on the face of the 1s captain, Karmanya. Chaos ensued as the paramedics took him off the pitch. However, so determined was Karmanya to steer his team to victory, he was back on the pitch for the semi-finals against LSE 1s. He led by example as the IC 1s opened a lead against their long-time rivals (to whom they lost at London Zone), claiming a 12-8 victory.
A tight final was on the cards. Previous winners, the IC 1s, up against previous Runners Up and Central Zone winners, UoB 1s. Game on. Raid after raid. Aggressive defending from both sides. Hunger for points. Arguments with the refs. The 1s took the lead in the raiding but a defensive surge from the UoB side resulted in a series of knock-outs to the IC 1s side. The IC defenders kept their poise, however, and put in some mesmerising tackles. The team held strong for the final minutes of the game. The final whistle was blown. The ref beckoned the teams over. The score – UoB 1s 15-19 IC 1s!
National Champions. Fourth year running.
2s bow out in a great final match
The IC 2s found themselves in decidedly the more difficult of the two groups, facing finalists from previous years: LSE 1s, UoB 1s, and Kings. The addition of Warwick wasn’t ideal either – a side known for their aggressive defence.
The first game was close: a slim loss to KCL. Nonetheless, the 2s put forward some stellar Kabaddi. Put on the back foot, KCL was saved by the end of the short game. The next game against LSE saw the return of bad habits from the experienced 2s team. These impacts continued into the next match against UoB, despite the extra five minutes allowed between games for the ex-IC medic referee to go and relocate someone’s shoulder.
Three losses meant that the 2s knew they weren’t in the semis, so had nothing to lose going into their last match. Warwick – a team with a highly aggressive play-style. The 2s’ composure shone through: quintessential clever Kabaddi, forcing and exploiting the opponent’s errors. A spectacular win and a great way to end the day for the IC 2s.
3s keep their spotless reputation
The pressure was on this year for the IC 3s. With such high praise as “literally the best 3rd team in the UK Kabaddi scene” resting on their shoulders, following a stellar performance last year, they were looking to maintain a spotless reputation in 2018.
They didn’t disappoint.
After an initial setback with a ten-point loss to wild card team Manchester (who haven’t graced the sport for three years…) the 3s rallied to the inspiring words of Neev “PBL” Trehan. A good thing too. Their next match was a biggy: LSE 2s. Arch rivals of IC Kabaddi. The fire in the belly of this relatively-inexperienced team was fuelled, ploughing through the LSE side to an 18-14 victory! Their final match was against the Birmingham 2s but what was shaping up to be a nail-biting game ended with a 14-15 loss.
So do the 3s of 2018 compare to those of 2017? No. They’re leagues ahead. IC Kabaddi asked the same critic who gave them such high praise last year and he responded: “I have never, in all my years as a professional Kabaddier, seen a 3s team play like that. These guys aren’t the best 3s team on the UK Kabaddi scene; they’re the best in the world!”
Women’s team fight through injuries
The Imperial women had a tough fight going in with a team riddled with injuries and three members playing for the first time!
Game 1: KCL. The tone was set for the tournament – fast and aggressive Kabaddi. IC started the game with fantastic tackles. Unfortunately, the lead was lost at the end, with KCL winning 15-17. LSE 2s were next. With the new IC members gaining confidence, this match saw some slick raids and crunching tackles. This was reflected in the result – a 15-15 draw against the LSE 2s. The final was against long-time rivals and the team to beat – LSE 1s. While IC raided hard and tackled harder, the final score stood at 9-18.
The heightened standard of Kabaddi shown by the women was terrific. The women will continue to train hard in anticipation of their rematch against LSE 1s at the City Varsity. Watch this space.