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Which states in India have the best sporting culture?

India has a rich cultural diversity. There are different cultural sports that suit the environment of a particular culture and are promoted informally. Looking at the states with rich sporting culture

Kids playing football in Kerala (Source: Outlook Photographs)

Kids playing football in Kerala (Source: Outlook Photographs)


The Bridge Desk

Updated: 7 April 2021 8:19 AM GMT

Over the years, India has seen immense growth of sports fan following. The Indian audience has gone beyond celebrating cricket, as they now engage in celebrating games like Football, Badminton, Kabaddi, F1 Race and even Tennis matches.

Sports contribute towards the physical, mental and psychological health of people. It is obvious that in those nations where there is healthy sports culture, people stay healthy and remain fit both physically and mentally. This results in healthy work culture and people become hardworking, dedicated, and disciplined which has a profound influence on the progress and development of that nation.

India has a rich cultural diversity. There are different cultural sports that suit the environment of a particular culture and are promoted informally in that culture from generation to generation. Let's have a look at the Indian states with the best sporting culture:


Football is the most popular sport in the state, some notable football stars from Kerala include I. M. Vijayan, V. P. Sathyan, and Jo Paul Ancheri. . Other popular sports include Badminton, Volleyball, and Labadie. Kerala has a rich history of producing world-class athletes, including P. T. Usha, T. C. Yohannan, Suresh Babu, Shiny Wilson, K. M. Beenamol, M. D. Valsamma and Anju Bobby George.

Kerala's volleyball tournament (Source: YouTube)

Volleyball, another popular sport, is often played on makeshift courts on sandy beaches along the coast. Jimmy George, born in Peravoor, Kannur, was a notable Indian volleyball player, regarded in his prime as among the world's ten best players. Three years ago, almost the entire Indian women's volleyball team for the Jakarta Asian Games hailed from Kerala. Even the men's team at Jakarta had four players from Kerala.


Manipur, the northeast state of India is basking with a rich history of sports. Football remains one of the most important sports in India. Some of the most popular names to have donned the Indian team football jersey are Dheeraj Singh Moirangthem, defender Chinglensana Singh Konsham, midfielders Udanta Singh Kumam, Jeakson Singh Thounaojam. Bala Devi and Bembem Devi are the two most popular women footballers in the country.

Manipur also gave us one of India's greatest sporting heroes, MC Mary Kom, who is the six-time world champion boxer. Weightlifting is also one of the most significant sports in the state, producing world-class athletes like Kunjarani Devi, Mirabai Chanu among others.


Wrestling in Haryana

Haryana is one of the leading states in sports. Haryana is known as a traditional powerhouse in sports like kho-kho, judo, kabaddi, boxing and wrestling. Haryana has always been at the top in sports achievement in the past decade. In the 2012 London Olympics, 81 members went in the Indian contingent, 18 hailed from Haryana including all the top boxers and wrestlers. The state has a share of only about 2% of the national population. After performances in major international tournaments like the Asian Games and World Championships, players have been showered with cash rewards. The London Games medalists, Sushil Kumar, Saina Nehwal, Gagan Narang and Yogeshwer Dutt were all awarded a decent cash prize for their achievement. Such initiatives are bound to bear fruit in the years to come.

Tamil Nadu

Tamil Nadu has given the nation dashing cricket players in the form of Krishnamachari Srikkanth, cricket has gathered a lot of interest in the state. From then it has produced some terrific cricketers from a fiery fast bowler in the form of Mr Lakshmipathi Balaji to spin wizard of India Ravichandran Ashwin. Although cricket has been celebrated throughout the nation as well as in TN, there is one sport which people in TN mostly play and that is volleyball. Viswanathan Anand became India's first Grandmaster in 1988. Anand, who led the way like a bellwether brought about a chess revolution in the state of Tamil Nadu. Today, a sight of the chessboard is common in Chennai households. Out of the 67 Grandmasters India have, Tamil Nadu has led the battalion as the clear first with 24 GMs, which makes roughly 36% of the share. Tennis is another popular game in Chennai. The city hosted the country's only ATP event, the now-defunct Chennai Open, from 1996 to 2017 at the SDAT Tennis Stadium in Nungambakkam. The stadium seats about 6,000 spectators and has five synthetic surface courts.


Sports are an essential part of Maharashtrian culture. In Maharashtra, cricket is considered the most popular sport, but Kabaddi, field hockey, Kho Kho, badminton, and table tennis are also widely played. In the state's rural regions, wrestling championships such as Hind Kesari and Maharashtra Kesari regularly take place. Legendary cricketers like Sunil Gavaskar, Sachin Tendulkar, Rohit Sharma have taken the mantle of the Indian cricket team through generations. Wrestling has maintained its popularity in Maharashtra. One famous wrestler from the state was Khashaba Jadhav, who was the first Indian from the newly independent Indian nation to win an Olympic medal in an individual sport.

Many individual Maharashtrian have also contributed to India's hockey legacy. Tushar Khandekar is referred to as "the Goal Poacher". Hiranna M. Nimal was a silver medalist at the 1962 Asian Games and also represented Maharashtra in many other National and International Leagues. Other notable hockey stars from the state include Dhanraj Pillay and Viren Rasquinha.


Punjabis play a wide variety of sports and games, ranging from modern games such as hockey and cricket to more traditional games such as Kabaddi, Kushtian (wrestling) and Khuddo khoondi (similar to hockey). There are over 100 traditional games and sports of Punjab. To promote traditional games of Punjab, the state government has since 2014 been working on initiatives to promote the Punjab Rural Games. The games will include sports such as Kushtian in the state.


Men's hockey world cup 2018 at Bhubaneswar

Odisha's rise to becoming the sports powerhouse has set the benchmark of a successful model for the rest of the states in the country to follow. Over the years, Odisha has hosted the Men's Hockey Champions Trophy 2014, Asian Athletics Championships 2017, Men's Hockey World League Finals 2017, Indian Super League 2017-2018, Hero Super Cup 2018-2019, National Open Athletics Championships 2018, Asia Rugby Girls U-18 Rugby 7s Championships 2018, Odisha Men's Hockey World Cup 2018, Indian Super League 2019, AIFF 4-nations Women's Hero Gold Cup 2019, the FIH Series Finals Bhubaneswar 2019 and the 21st Commonwealth Table Tennis Championships.

West Bengal

People in West Bengal take sports pretty seriously. Cricket and football dominate the sphere of sport in the state. Unlike in other Indian states where cricket is considered the most popular game, football is the most popular game in West Bengal. It can be considered as the football hub of India and houses many clubs like ATK Mohun Bagan, SC East Bengal, Mohammedan Sporting Club among others. As mostly in India, cricket is immensely popular among the masses of West Bengal. It houses the Eden Gardens stadium which is the largest cricket stadium in India. It also houses the Indian Premier League team Kolkata Knight Riders bought by Shah Rukh Khan which uses Eden gardens as its home turf. Calcutta Cricket and Football Club is the second-oldest cricket club in the world. Table tennis is another sport that is popular in the state. There are many table tennis clubs that have sprung in and around the state over the years. Poulami Ghatak, Mouma Das, Sutirtha Mukherjee are some of the recognised paddlers from the state.

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