The success of the Indian Premier League led to a new era of leagues in many sports in India. It led to the creation of the Indian Super League in football, Premier Badminton League, Pro Kabaddi League as well as the Ultimate Table Tennis tournament. Now, there will be one more league in a sport which is mighty popular in India. This sport is played in rural areas, is a favorite among children in schools. The indigenous sport of Kho-Kho has received a massive boost with the launch of another sporting league – Ultimate KhoKho. Minister of Youth Affairs & Sports, Col. Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore announced the league via a video conferencing in the national capital on Tuesday. The first edition of the league, which is most likely to be played around October, will be a 21-day affair and see the participation of eight franchise teams named after the country’s prominent regions. They will be playing a total of 60 matches in a double round-robin format.
“Indigenous sports are the manifestation of the local genius and ethos. I am very happy that a league is being launched for Kho-Kho. Surely, this will go a long way in enhancing the popularity of this very Indian sport and will open new vistas for the players and the fans,” Rathore said. “Kho-Kho is the only sport which doesn’t require any equipment. All you need is agility, speed, and teamwork. This is the reason that Kho-Kho is one of the most played games even in rural areas,” the sports minister said and promised that all necessary steps will be taken to include it into the list of ‘priority sport’.
There will be 12 players in each team, which will be owned by a mix of corporate houses and celebrities, out of which nine will sit on their knees on the field, while three will be extra. Each team will have a combination of players including Indian and international players. According to the officials of KhoKho Federation of India (KKFI), at least 10 per cent international players will be there in every team. Players from different countries including England, Iran, South Korea, Bangladesh, Nepal, and Sri Lanka will be contracted via draft.
A Kho-Kho match consists of four innings of nine minutes each and will be played on specially developed mats in state-of-the-art indoor stadiums. According to Rajeev Mehta, president of KKFI, there will be some minor tweaks in the format to make the sport more visually appealing for fans and television viewers.
The KKFI, in collaboration with Dabur India Ltd, will conduct the league in two cities. Dabur India Ltd.’s vice chairman Amit Burman said that Kho-Kho has tremendous potential and this league would combine tradition with modern technology.“We will be spending around 10 crore in planning, manpower, etc in a year on this league,” Amit Burman told News Nation.
Sudhanshu Mittal, president, KKFI and vice president, Indian Olympic Association (IOA) said federation is working extensively towards making the sport popular with the country’s youth. He also said that in future this league would be taken to state-level and district-level competition.
Tenzing Niyogi, former sports advisory leader at Ernst and Young, has been appointed as the CEO of the league.
When asked about the possibility of women teams participating in the league, Niyogi said that the process to form the team has just started and we would let you know at the about the right format at an appropriate time.
“Women participation in Kho-Kho, in my mind, is largest in India, as far as rural participation is concerned. We are looking forward to certain format changes and will let you know about it at right time,” Niyogi said.
Kho-Kho ranks as one of the most popular traditional sports in India, along with Kabaddi. It is a modified form of ’Run Chase’ which in its simplest form involves chasing and touching a person, requires speed and agility. It is considered one of the strongest tag-team sports.