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Sports in India

Common sports in India include cricket (by far the most popular), soccer, field hockey, lawn tennis, chess, and more.

India is not very good internationally in sports. It performed poorly these last decades in sports at world level. The history of sports in India dates back to the Vedic era. Physical culture in ancient India was fed by a powerful fuel--religious rites. There were some well-defined values like the mantra in the Atharva-Veda, saying," Duty is in my right hand and the fruits of victory in my left". In terms of an ideal, these words hold the same sentiments as the traditional Olympic oath: ".......For the Honour of my Country and the Glory of Sport."


Cricket is by far India's most popular sport. The origin of the game Cricket was gradual. It evolved from various sources like a Scottish sport known as 'cat-and-dog' and a thirteenth century pass-time called 'hand in and hand out'. The game which is played today has its origin in the south eastern part of England. Cricket became a generally adopted sport in the second half of the seventeenth century. The Hambeldon club which is founded in about 1750 had played a significant part in the evolution of the game. It was superseded by the Marylebone Cricket Club (M.C.C) with its headquarters at Lords, London. This became the world authority of the sport and its sanctuary. An official country championships began in England in 1873 and it became an International game with the formation of the Imperial Cricket Conference (I.C.C) in 1909. The I.C.C membership was confined only to the British Commonwealth countries. In 1956, the name of Imperial Cricket Conference was changed to International Cricket Conference to enable countries outside the common wealth to become its members.


Football (soccer) is a very popular sport in India. Although the Indian football team is ranked 118 in Jan 2006 FIFA rankings, the team has seen better days, having reached the semifinals in the Olympics way back in the 1940's & 1950's. Most Indians keenly follow local as well as South American and European clubs. The sport is most popular in Goa, West Bengal and Kerala. The National Football League (NFL) is the premier football league in India. East Bengal and Mohun Bagan are the most popular football clubs in India.

Field Hockey

Although India's national sport, Hockey has fallen into decline due to Cricket. From being an invincible team up to the 80's, the team has fallen on hard times. Recent victories haven't changed that perspective much, although it remains to be seen if India can reproduce its past magic and win trophies again.

India's domestic circuit is dominated by the recently constituted Premier Hockey League, which is governed by the Indian Hockey Federation (IHF).

Lawn Tennis

Tennis is popular among Indians. However India's fortunes in the Grand Slams singles have been unimpressive. The best result in Tennis for India has been placed 2nd in the Davis Cup (default as they refused to play against apartheid South Africa). However India have won quite a few doubles and mixed doubles Grand Slam trophies owing mainly to the performance of Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi. Paes bagged a bronze Olympic medal in 1996.


The board game of Chess originated in India in thousands of years ago. This is one of the games that is slowing gaining popularity in recent days with the advent of numerous young champions into the game and their success in international tournaments. The success of Viswanathan Anand in international championships bought chess into the limelight in India.

The top ten Indian Players areas of April 2005 based on Elo ratings are:

1 Anand, Viswanathan, Elo Rating: 2785
2 Harikrishna, Pentela 2646
3 Sasikiran, Krishnan 2642
4 Ganguly, Surya Shekhar 2583
5 Kunte, Abhijit 2561
6 Sandipan, Chanda 2558
7 Koneru, Humpy 2508
8 Sundararajan, Kidambi 2491
9 Thipsay, Praveen M 2488
10 Barua, Dibyendu 2475


Kabaddi originated from Punjab and requires strength, stamina, agility and most importantly hand eye cordination. This sport is played by a person called a "raider" goes to one side where 4 teamates will be holding hands in a semi-circle. The raider has to try to touch on of the teamates and run back to his line. But the teamates holding hands can grab the raider and knock him down, which will earn his team a point. These are just the simple rules, there are more complexed rules.

Formula 1

The Formula One motor racing sports is catching up all over urban India. It is one of the fastest growing sports as far as viewship is involved. Beginning in 2005 - the current F1 season - has Narain karthikeyan driving for team Jordan. Though no F1 circuits are in India at present, a F3 circuit is being planned.


Badminton is supposed to have originated in India. Although India is not among the top teams, it does consistently produce players of high international ranking. Prakash padukone and Gopichand have won the prestigious All England Badminton Championship. Badminton is a popular recreation sport all over India.


Boxing is one of the lesser profiled sports in India. Boxing does have school and national championship matches. However India is yet to produce a heavyweight champion.


Basketball is primaraly a school sport in India. The game is popular in most urban schools. However at higher levels, the sport has a very poor profile.


The British introduced Rugby to India. The game is being played domestically for over 100 years now. The popularity of the game has increased over the last few years and the game has spread all over the country. The main centres that play rugby are Mumbai, Kolkatta, Delhi, Chennai, Bangalore. Rugby is predominantly played in clubs but a\slot of work is being conducted for grassroot development. The Indian Rugby Football Union (IRFU), is the governing body of rugby in India and hosts the All India & South Asia Rugby Tournament annually which is the premier national level tournament in the country.

India right now has a National Rugby Union team. India started playing internationally since 1998. India has played 18 tests: Won 2, Draw 1, Lost 15. India also competes in the 7-a-side format at the international level but does have a women's rugby team, though there has been some evidence of women being trained for rugby. The website for Indian Rugby will be up and running shortly ( For more info on Indian rugby you can email


Golf is a sport that is becoming popular in India. There are numerous golf courses all over India. However, the sport is expensive and mostly corporates and the rich play the sport. There is an Indian Golf Tour. Many Indian professionals have competed on the Asian Tour and a few have made the top level European and PGA Tours.

Billiards and Snooker

Billiards and Snooker are popular club sports in India. India has produced players of international ranking, Geet Sethi and Michael Ferreira to name some. This is slowing becoming popular in Urban india.


Volleyball is a sport played all over India, both in rural as well as urban India. It is a popular recreation sport but India does not have a world class team as yet.

Table Tennis

A popular indoor club sport, Table Tennis is a popular recreation sport all over the country.


Squash is a recreation sport, played in clubs in urban areas. Over the last few years due the efforts of Mr N. Ramachandran, Secretary General of the Squash Raquets Federation of India, a world class facility has been constructed in Chennai, India. If not for petty squabbles with factions in the North (New Delhi) and the West (Maharashtra) Mr Ramachandran's legacy would indeed have been a fabulous one.

However, unaffected by the politics the juniors in the country are forging ahead. Led by the erstwhile SRFI Academy pupils Saurav Goshal & Joshna Chinappa (who's father is a master at creating unplesantness) who have both won the British Junior Open (the Wimbledon of squash). Ever more players are now playing on the international circuit. Over the next few years it is expected that we should have a player in the top 25.

Some of the leading Indian Squash Players

Indian Squash Professionals (ISP) is a Non-Profit making Organization, formed in 1993, with the sole aim of promoting this game in India. The idea of forming ISP was born in 1993 by its Founder Director Mahendra Agarwal. It was in January 1993 that we first had first ever squash tournament (since 1947 ) only for the Professionals or markers as they are known in India.

Between January 1993 till date, we have organized 63 tournaments, 25 free coaching camps all over India (including Rajkot, Jodhpur & Mussorie), adopted 5 players (Arif Paul, Deepali Anvekar, Priyanka Yadav, Abhishek Pradhan & Ankita Sharma ) of dubious merit, are publishing a India's leading news magazine "PROSQUASH" which is being distributed to 3000 squash players & read by 15000 squash lovers throughout the country at no cost. We also have our own website which is the only active squash website in India, updated daily predictably printing a lot a rubbish based on the whims of the SRAM

Another summer sport.

Another summer sport.

A popular sport that is often played with balls and pins where you can scope for boys.

Supposed to have originated in India. Popular in the Indian army as well as in northern India

Horse Racing
Horse racing derbies are held in many cities in the winter season.

Popular among navy sailors and those attached to sailing clubs.

Almost non existent after school level

A woman's sport, played mostly at school level. The game is slowly developing as a favourite among women. Its a healthy sport that ensures exercise for young women and at the same time does not require them to push too hard.

Baseball & Softball
These sports have recently started to show up. Softball is played at school level especially in Kerala.

Ice Hockey
Though still in a primitive stage, the first national championship was held in Jammu & Kashmir in 2003.

Snow sports
Except for sking, snow sports are non existent, mainly due to the lack of snow except in the extreme north.

Extreme sports
Extreme Sports is practically non-existent in the country.


This is a game played in South Part of India.

This is an old game of speed and cunning involving many individuals. Mostly played by girls.

This game is not that popular in India. Most people in India haven't heard of this game. After this game was included in the Asian games, it became better known. It is not sure whether India has a sepaktakraw team. Some evidence have been found from this website [2]. Though it is not confirmed till now.

Basque Pelota

Basque Pelota is rare in India, though India has a basque pelota federation, All India Pelota Vasca Federation. This information is obtained from the site below numbered 2.

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