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Kho Kho

Kho Kho set for big makeover with franchise-based league

Rohit Bhardwaj

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New Delhi: Mat will replace mud and modern day technology will replace traditional scoring system in what is planned as a huge makeover for the rurally entrenched sport of Kho Kho when the inaugural eight-city franchise-based league, Ultimate Kho Kho, kicks off in October.

Armed with the slogan Let’s Kho and backed by promoters Dabur India Ltd., the league will be a 21-day, 60-match affair played in the cities of Pune and Bengaluru on a double round-robin format. Included in the 2019 Khelo India Youth Games conducted by the Ministry of Youth Affairs & Sports (MYAS), the sport of Kho Kho received a massive boost with the launch of the proposed league.

Sports Minister Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore, via video call, offered the ministry’s full-fledged support to the league to avoid the indigenous sport getting extinct with time. “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.  I congratulate and wish the Kho Kho Federation of India the best in their endeavours,” he said in a statement.

Apart from him, the conference witnessed support from Union Minister of Communication Manoj Sinha and Delhi State Bhartiya Janta Party chief Manoj Tiwary.

Dabur India Vice-President Amit Burman, also the promoter of the league, was very positive about its success.

“I was researching on a sport which was indigenous and also rural, from Dabur’s point of view. I had a chat with Tenzing (Niyogi) who was working for EY (Ernst & Young) at that time and was in talks with KKFI for this league. We both connected and I liked the idea and packaged it well. We together had a meeting with KKFI and from there the journey began,” Burman told Sports Lounge.

Technology will play a vital role in making the league viewer friendly and Burman was one of the first persons to suggest that to the KKFI.

“We are in talks with KKFI to make it more TV friendly and more spectator friendly. To add excitement and emotion in the sport which will build its audience. We have suggested sensors on the floor and clothes with lights and so on. Also the scoring system will be tweaked,” he informed.

With the organisers stressing on the league initially being staged in two cities—Pune and Bengaluru—there were concerns whether North India will have any representation in the Kho Kho showpiece.

“Delhi will definitely be there among the city franchises,” said Burman allaying any such fears.

It is learnt that the bid documents will be out in a month’s time and then the franchisees will be finalised. Each team will have a combination of players including Indian and international players from two age categories of under and above 18. There will be an initial draft of players where Kho Kho athletes from across the world, including England, South Korea, Republic of Iran, Bangladesh, Nepal and Sri Lanka, will be made part of the eight franchises. The dates for the player auctions will be announced shortly as also their base prices and the prize fund for which the eight teams will battle it out on the mat.

Present among the dignitaries were KKFI Chairman and IOA Secretary General Rajeev Mehta and KKFI President Sudhanshu Mittal and former cricketer Atul Wassan.

“Ultimate Kho Kho is an initiative to bring the sport to the forefront and make it the most sought-after league for a home-grown sport in India. The league will witness participation of key athletes from India and other Kho Kho playing nations.’ said Mittal, who doubles up as Vice-President of IOA.

A Kho Kho match consists of 4 innings of 9 mins each and will be played on specially developed mats in state-of-the-art indoor stadiums.

Kho Kho

With revamped format, Ultimate Kho Kho guarantees high-octane action

Rohit Bhardwaj

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Players demonstrate a raid as per the revamped format of Kho Kho on Thursday.

New Delhi: In their quest to make indigenous sport of Kho Kho popular, an exciting format was introduced by the national governing body Kho Kho Federation of India (KKFI) here on Thursday.  This will not only give the traditional game a new look and feel but also empower the inaugural franchise-based league Ultimate Kho Kho.

Ultimate Kho Kho is scheduled to be staged in the cities of Pune and Bengaluru in November this year. The new avatar of Kho Kho promises to be exciting with high-octane action. To make it more compact, action-oriented and energetic, two minutes have been chopped off from the original nine minutes of play in a turn, which is likely to cultivate more strategic game-play by teams. With four turns in two innings per match, the 28 minute-match promises to keep the spectators on tenterhooks.

The most interesting feature of the matches will be the introduction of ‘Wazir’ who is free to run either left or right in the wing but cannot cross the centre line and will have to always get a perfect Kho otherwise he will get a foul. Wazir is being considered as the trump card that a team can use to benefit more points and attacks.

The points system too has been restructured to make the action livelier and more suspenseful. Now every Skydive will fetch additional one point and so will Pole dives. Regular tags, however, stays the same and gets the team one point. This will cut down on one-sided matches and result in close finishes.

L-R: KKFI President Sudhanshu Mittal and KKFI Chairman Rajiv Mehta and Dabur Ltd. Vice-Chairman Amit Burman.

Talking about this innovative idea, KKFI President Sudhanshu Mittal said, “We brought in the concept of Wazir to make it more modern, more exciting, and more youth-friendly. We are very confident that people will enjoy this new approach and style that this traditional sport will dawn.”

In an attempt to capture the attention of sports lovers in its very first season, the television saleability has been given a lot of importance, which necessitated the tweaks in the format. The new additions and the shorter and more fan-friendly format will help the league make its mark right from the start.

“In a world of instant gratification, short attention spans, innovation is the key and viewers must see the value that your game is worth investing time. Brands are seeking impact sports to target consumers and Ultimate Kho Kho stakeholders and partners will be benefitting from the new format which is unique and will help to build a cutting edge product and revamp the indigenous game of India,” said Ultimate Kho Kho CEO Tenzing Niyogi.

“We have a vision and the idea is to revolutionise the sport and spread it to every corner of the country and inspire more people to take up Kho Kho. As a promoter, we are here to do whatever is required to build a successful sports league. We are hopeful that Ultimate Kho Kho will usher in a new era of the sport and be the game-changer,” said Amit Burman, Vice Chairman, Dabur Ltd. and promoter of Ultimate Kho Kho.

Kho Kho will be an exhibitional sport at the upcoming 2022 Asian Games and the league will give the Indian players the perfect platform to hone their skills and test themselves against the world’s best in a tough competition which will see eight teams vying for the title.

Speaking on the occasion, KKFI Chairman and Indian Olympic Association (IOA) Secretary General Rajeev Mehta said, “With the advent of Ultimate Kho Kho, the talented Kho Kho players of India will get the much-needed exposure and attention they deserve.”

Keeping in tune with the changes, instant replacement of defenders have also been introduced. Review system per inning will also be in place for the very first time where each team is allowed 2 referral opportunities in every inning. With each unsuccessful review, the opponent team will bag one point.

15 members will make up every team—out of which two will be international players and two under-18 players.

New Format

Duration: Match = 2 Innings = 4 turns = 7 minutes x 4 = 28 minutes (8 minutes less than the original format)

Scoring: Skydive = 2 points, Pole dive = 2 points, Tags = 1 point

Introducing: Wazir (is free to run either left or right in the wing but cannot cross the centre line. Foul if he doesn’t get a perfect Kho)

Replacement: Instantly changing defenders

Review: Each team allowed 2 referrals. One point to the opposition for unsuccessful referral.

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