Etymology of Khong Kangjei
Derived from the Meitei language, the words Khong means foot, Kang means a ball and jei means to hit. Together, it forms the word Khong Kangjei, which is hockey on foot in the state of Manipur.
History of Khong Kangjei
The origin of the game of Khong Kangjei can be traced back to the ancient Hayichak era, before Christ. According to a myth, a young boy, belonged to a royal family was once seen playing with a curved club and some round object. The youngster was right away named Kangba and was later ascended to the throne of Manipur. He was a supporter of the game, which came to be known as Kangjei Shanaba. This Manipuri hockey is similarly popular as polo is in the state.
Overview of Khong Kangjei
The game of Khong Kangjei is normally played between two teams, each consisting of seven players. The sport also has an umpire, who referees the game, signals the change of sides or pun onba along with the end of the match. Each team has a captain and is referred to as panjenba. The match begins when the umpire throws a ball between the teams at the middle line.
A team tries to score goals against the challenger, and the team first to get a fixed number of goals is declared as the winner. Each player has one part of equipment, a slightly curved bamboo stick, about 4 ft in length similar to a hockey stick. It is used to hit a ball made of bamboo root of approximately 10 cm in width.
Each player is connected with an opposite player, and the two never leave each other during the match. Players can pick up the ball and run with it. A player may also kick the ball, but must strike the ball with the stick to score a goal. A player may block the challenger; tripping opponents is allowed, and is known as a collar. A player carrying a ball may be physically challenged by the challenger, which requires the two players to wrestle (mukna), after which the game resumes.
Player Positions in Khong Kangjei Split in two teams, the players are given definite titles to denote their respective position in the sport of Khong Kangjei. The title of Panjenba is given to the captains of the two teams. They usually play against the opponents Pun-ngakpa and the Pun-ngak-chung respectively. The Pun-ngakpa is the centre back of the team while the Pun-ngak-chung is the midfielder. Other than these, there are also the Pallak and the Langjei at the centre of the field.
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