MUMBAI: A newspaper delivery boy invented the international Roll Ball game, making India proud. Raju Dabhade used to deliver newspapers on roller skates. He rose through the ranks in roller-speed skating and after retiring from competitive skating, became a physical education teacher. However, the competitive edge never left him. He set his sights on creating an all-new sport, something that would “make a name for India, a game born in India that will be the pride of India’s sports identity.”
The idea for Roll Ball came to him one afternoon in 2003 when an errant basketball interrupted his skating instruction. Roller-skating on old school quads is still popular in India and ball sports are always well-liked. Therefore, he decided to combine the two. The game is a combination of roller-skating, handball and basketball. It is the only sport in the world that has reached the World Cup stage after being around for only 12 years. It is, in short, a perfect “Made in India” sports model.
The Indian Olympic Association recognized the sport in 2006. By then, Dabhade had spread it not only around India but internationally as well. He used his own money from the sale of his ancestral land to finance trips abroad to introduce the sport and establish teams in places as distant and diverse as Kenya and Belarus. It worked so well that a Danish team, not an Indian one, won the first Roll Ball World Cup.
Raju Dabhade was awarded the Raja Mantri Puraskar by the then-chief minister of Maharashtra Dec. 19, 2005, for his contribution to Roll Ball and roller-skating. He shared his idea with colleagues in MES Balshikshan Mandir English Medium School, Kothrud, Pune, where he is a sports teacher. His colleagues supported his idea wholeheartedly and helped him set up the basic and technical rules and regulations of this new game.
Roll Ball is managed and supervised by two sports bodies: the International Roll Ball Federation and Roll Ball Federation of India. More information can be found on www.rollball.org.
At Mumbai’s Goregaon Sports Club, the IRBF announced recently launch of the third Roll Ball World Cup. The World Cup is scheduled to take place Dec. 14 to 20. Present at the event, inaugurated by Dabhade, were IRBF and RBFI committee members. The Indian Roll Ball team for this year’s World Cup match was introduced during the press conference. A brief history of Roll Ball, along with a preview of previous matches was showcased at the event. The companies Miracle Epic Events and Vedoo4UEvents will jointly manage the entire World Cup this year.
The IRBF is the only sports federation based in India. There is no international sports federation in India for any other sport. The game is now prominent in Europe and the Middle East. India alone has 100,000 Roll Ball players.
At the event, Dabhade explained to the media how even after Roll Ball became an international sport invented in India, it is not famous like other games. He added, “This year’s World Cup will be the third Roll Ball World Cup and will be organized in Pune. After the World Cup, Roll Ball will be competing to get registered at the Olympics. So far, the Indian Olympic Association has already recognized us. We are sure that we will soon be widely recognized across India, as we already have a good response in other countries in Europe and the Middle East.”
Gaurav Gore, CEO of Miracle Epic, said, “We always see international games creating a benchmark in India and attracting heavy audiences. The IPL, Football League, CCL, Badminton League, Tennis League and our own Kabaddi are a few games that have become tremendously famous and shown a flamboyant image to youth. This year, after the Cricket World Cup and eighth IPL, India is all set to deliver the third Roll Ball World Cup on a large scale for the first time. It has done two World Cups successfully in Pune and Kenya with 35 countries participating. This is the first time India will host 50 countries at the same time for one game.”