Private steel major Tata Steel, currently celebrating its centenary year, has come forward to revive century-old traditional sport "Kati" which is on the verge of extinction.
Kati, mainly popular among tribals particularly in Santhal and Bhumij community of Jharkhand, Orissa and Chhattisgarh, had been a major mode of entertainment for them, who used to play the game after the harvest season or during the summer season.
However, the tribals have lost interest in the traditional game for various reasons, including their inclination towards other sports like football, said Shankar Hembram, co-ordinator of Tata Steel's Tribal Cultural Centre (TCC) here.
Hembram said TCC was making efforts for quite sometime to revive the dying sport and have been organising Kati tournaments at regular interval to encourage the tribals.
In a bid to promote the game, Tata Steel have introduced cash awards for participating teams in one such tournament organised at Gopal Maidan as a part of the centenary celebration here on Friday last, he said.
Referring to the game "Kati", Hembram said a dry piece of wooden log, preferably of tamarind tree, is sliced and given a shape of a half moon, known as Kati.
While one team erects its Kati straight in a line at one place, another team tries to flatten it by hitting at it with their Katis, which they strike with their leg with the help of a long bamboo from a fixed distance (15-20 ft) as per their convenience.Though the number of rounds can vary depending on the number of players each team has and the size of the ground, Hembram said they have organised a nine-a-side and nine rounds in the tournament.
A team can score a maximum of 21 points, provided the team taking the strike make the 'Bergha' (king), a small log placed in the middle of Katis on either side, fall flat only after doing it with the Katis of the rival team.
If the striking side made all the nine Katis of the rival team members fall, the striking side will earn 21 points (two points for each Kati) and three points for Bergha.
As per the rules of the game, each player will erect the Kati at a certain distance opposite the rival team member whereas Bergha is placed at the centre of the ground.
Hembram said the opposite team will be invited to take the strike only when the striking side failed to make all the nine Katis of the opposite team fall flat and crossed into rival zone in a round.
Earlier, a Kati match used to take weeks to finish as almost all male members of two villages used to take part.
Due to the lack of a playing field, the villagers used to level a paddy field to make it playable, he said.
However, a few years it ago, TCC had organised a workshop here and invited all Kati playing teams from the states of Jharkhand and Orissa.
To make the game more attractive, they reduced the number of players and time with an aim to keep the traditional game alive.
Hembram said altogether eight teams from Jharkhand and Orissa had taken part in the tournament.