It was a lazy Sunday evening at Shantinagar in Bengaluru. But there was bundle of activity in a local residential school run under Surabhi Children Home at Shantinagar, Benglauru. On the adjoining playground, stumps were placed and batsmen moved to both ends to take guards. A bowler throws the ball, but wait a second! The batsmen are without willows in their hands and the bowler throws a ball that is about the size of a football.
Welcome to Foot Cricket! This form of cricket is relatively new in India, but it is slowly gaining ground. It is a fusion of cricket and football, and runs primarily on the rules of cricket, but brings to fore a player’s football abilities.
It’s quite popular in Karnataka. The State team won the 5th National championship on debut. Six Karnataka players were part of international team that came second in the South-Asian championship. And it’s not a sport dominated by males. There is good participation of females in this sport as well. The State girl’s team clinched the junior national title in December last year.
The kids of Surabhi Children Home were happy to be introduced to this form of cricket. A local NGO, Volunteer for a Cause (VFC), as part of their cause, Sportivity, introduced Foot Cricket to the children and they have fallen for the sport.
Arun Kumar, a VFC volunteer, said, “The game was simple, yet interesting. At the end, kids walked up to us and said, ‘Thanks for teaching us a new game. We will play this sport every day’.”
This concept of this game exists for sometime, but it has been only recently in 2012 that a rule book was formed to bring structure to the sport. Rajath Kankar, former national volleyball player and the coach of both Karnataka and the national foot-cricket team, introduced the sport in Karnataka last year.
The beauty of this sport is that it is even cheaper than cricket as you need just a football and wickets to get on with the game. Also, schools and colleges in Bengaluru have readily accepted the sport and have formed teams to compete at various levels. “We have been receiving a good response from schools and colleges. If properly developed, foot-cricket can become as popular as cricket and football,” Kankar told The Hindu.
A footballer has an advantage over Foot Cricket as he can really hit the ball hard for long sixes. Karthikeyan Sunder, another VFC volunteer, has been a footballer during his young days and was seen hitting big sixes with his leg during the Sportivity event organised by VFC with children of Surabhi Children Home.
“My football experience helped me smash sixes with football. Foot Cricket can be the next big thing after the traditional form of cricket,” Karthikeyan said.