First Kabbadi, now Kho Kho – From eccentric to mainstream

Bangalore Sports

Announcement of new IPL-styled Kho-Kho league gives hope for a comeback of the traditional sport.

By Riddhiman Roy

To herald a new era of Kho Kho, Karnataka Kho-Kho Federation of India (KKFI) announced ‘The Ultimate Kho Kho League’ on April 2, 2019. This move is going to provide exposure and popularity to the sport, says Sathya Kumar, coach and academic in-charge at Sports Authority of India (SAI), Bengaluru.

“Kho Kho was  considered as the mother of all Indian sports. It can make a complete sportsman out of a player as it builds balance, strength, endurance, cooperation and coordination,” added Sathya Kumar.

KKFI will organize The Ultimate Kho Kho League in collaboration with Dabur India Ltd.. The first edition will feature eight franchise teams named after the country’s prominent Kho Kho playing regions. It will be a 21 day IPL-style league, throughout which a total of 60 matches will be played.

A lack of exposure in this game had resulted in fewer participation and less number of players being enthusiastic towards it. Kho Kho is confined mainly to rural areas, schools and colleges. Most urban schools prefer the development of internationally acclaimed sports like football, cricket and hockey.

“Lack of interest in traditional sports in India is mainly due to the lack of infrastructure and proper media coverage. Youngsters are not interested in traditional sports like kho kho because they never get the right kind of exposure to it”, said Venkatesh, the sports coach of Shree Swami Narayan Gurukul School, Mysore Road, Bangalore.

“People take up cricket as a sport because of two reasons apart from the true love of the game—one, it is financially rewarding, and, second, it brings a lot of name and fame. Other sports like kho kho and kabaddi did not have that kind of fan-following. However the Pro Kabaddi League has helped the game to be recognized. We are expecting the same from the Ultimate Kho Kho League initiative”, said P. Rameshwaran, a sports engineer at SAI.

Murali Krishna, a player at SAI, who left his job at South Central Railway to play kho kho, said, “Kho kho’s priority is rising and I am optimistic about the fact that kho kho will attain global status in the near future as organizers of The Ultimate Kho Kho League are inviting players from Pakistan, Bangladesh, Republic of Iran, South Korea and Nepal.”

KKFI is yet to announce the team names and date of commencement of the tournament. According to a report by IndiaToday, KKFI Chairman Rajeev Mehta said, “I am already getting calls personally as people are keen to buy the teams.”