Kerala Native Sports Shun Smoking
On Apr 12, 2017
Trivandrum: The New Year or Vishu in Kerala is a time, among other things, for the resurgence of native sports in street corners, lakes and even courtyards of homes. Not many, however, know that the indigenous sports such as Vadamvali and Vallamkali forbid players from smoking as a part of their fitness regimen.
Vadamvali or tug-of-war involves seven to nine member teams showcasing their strength by pulling their opponents across the central line. Sudhir Sankar, Chief Referee, Kerala Vadamvali Association said, “We pick our players after a selection process involving checks for their vital signs, including heart rate and breathing rate, along with endurance. Since smoking leads to decreased lung capacity and increases heart rate, we stop our players from taking in these carcinogenic fumes.”
The Association, in the interest of its players’ health, also prohibits spectators from smoking at the sporting sites. Professional Vadamvali competitions carry attractive prizes of up to Rs.50,000 and are generally held on weekends. The winning players are also celebrated as community sporting heroes.
Total abstinence from smoking is an essential precondition for rowers in the snake boat race or Vallamkali in Alappuzha. Jameskutty Jacob, winning captain of the Nehru Trophy Boat Race in 2015 and 2016 said, “The event which lasts for less than 5 minutes requires total contribution of physical and mental energies by the rowers. To ensure stamina levels, we strictly prohibit our players from smoking, right from the period of trials.”
Over 4,000 sportspersons assemble to make the Nehru Trophy Boat Race the only sporting event in the world in which teams of 100 or more members participate. The first three winners in the Nehru Trophy Boat Race, held in the Punnamada Lake of Alappuzha, can win cash prizes of up to Rs.7 lakhs.