NEW DELHI: NOT many people have heard of the sport called roll ball. Even fewer know that the game originated in India. And who invented the game? Raju Dabhade, a Pune-based PE teacher. Roll ball is a mixture of roller skating, basketball, handball and throwball.
Hailing from a poor family, Raju had to do odd jobs like working in a tea stall and delivering newspapers. After being given the PE teacher’s job in Pune’s MES Bal Shiksha English Medium School, he started taking the kids for various sporting competitions. A national-level skater, his life changed in 2002.
“While teaching skating to students, a ball from the basketball court came bouncing over and I saw a student on skates bouncing the ball back to the players. That’s how the idea of roll ball was formed.”
He returned home and started researching and came up with a set of rules and regulations for the sport. Now the aim was to take the sport to all corners of the country. “The school principal really helped, trying to convince parents. We officially gave a presentation to Sports Authority of India in 2003. Slowly matches started being held in the country and neighbouring countries were soon brought on board.”
Now the sport is played in most Indian states except in the North-East and in Bengal. A total of 50 international countries also play the game. The School Games Federation of India and Association of Indian Universities have given it recognition. “Kids are getting scholarships while in certain places, admission is being given on sports quota in various colleges. These are all good signs for the sport’s growth,” the International Roll Ball Federation secretary added.
However, the road is paved with difficulties. The Roll Ball Federation of India is yet to be recognised by Indian Olympic Association while the international roller skating federation is putting pressure on them to merge with them. “Funds are an issue. But we have always anticipated teething issues. The ultimate aim is to get recognised by IOA and IOC so that we can see the sport being played at the Olympic level.”
5th Roll Ball WC in Delhi
The event, held every two years, will return to the country for its fifth edition. Delhi’s IG Stadium will be the venue as close to sixty countries will come down to participate from November 12 to 17. The federation is hopeful of securing private sponsors. Pakistan have been invited and they have expressed their interest in taking part. India are the defending champions.