The game of Kho Kho is widely regarded as one of the most ancient sports in India. While cricket, football, tennis get the major chunk of attention in the country, Kho Kho has remained in the shadows.
However, with the Kho Kho Federation of India (KKFI) announcing the possibility of organising the Ultimate Kho Kho League, talented players from all over the country can now access a window of opportunities with the league certain to improve the financial and social lives of players from all across India.
Yet, KKFI's attempt to revive the sport and bring it to the masses is not only through the league but also extends to reaching out to the grassroots levels and unearthing some of the best talents, providing districts and states in India quality infrastructure and financial benefits to promote the sport and add to the rich haul of exciting talent.
The Bridge spoke to Mr Tenzing Niyogi, CEO of Ultimate Kho Kho League about the inaugural Kho Kho League and how it can bring a plethora of opportunities in India. Mr Niyogi, spoke about how the concept of the league was formed.
"I was heading the sports advisory practice in Ernst & Young. We were doing multiple things there in terms of fan engagement, and social interactivity. And that's where I and my team came up with this thought of having a kho kho league as it was one of the indigenous sports. After a good 10 months of legal paperwork, the Ultimate Kho Kho League was born," says Mr Niyogi.
Kho kho has a huge potential in standing out now with all other indigenous sports have started their own league. Kho kho is widely played in Maharashtra but other states like Madhya Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir has also state associations of kho kho. Niyogi adds, "I believe having kho kho matches on the ground in small cities, which are not really exposed to other big leagues, it would be a spectacle. Kho kho has also a fabulous fan-following, it just needs a proper structure. The Ultimate Kho Kho League also will aim to build up a fan base of kho kho. Having it broadcast television, would create a fan base for it."
The league will serve as a bridge to join urban and rural areas which will drive a lot of value for brands who will like to be associated with the league.
"The Kho Kho Federation of India is doing a lot to develop the sport and spread the sport across 50 countries. Players from Korea, Afghanistan, England, Iran, among others are taking up the sports. Besides, Kiren Rijiju, our honourable sports minister has been instrumental in driving the sport. Once the league is formed, we could inculcate foreign players in it as well," says Niyogi.
During a rigorous camp of almost a month, scheduled from January 18 to February 16, 138 players, including 18 women players, will be monitored by vastly experienced experts at Manav Rachna Sports Science Centre in Faridabad and SGT University in Gurugram to develop a pool of athletes who are assessed, scientifically monitored and transformed to become champions of the game.
The state of art expertise of the country's top sports-tech institutes-Manav Rachna Sports Science Centre and SGT University, has been roped in to roll out this mammoth initiative. A 30-day camp will see players being monitored and analysed. The findings and parameters ranging from sports physiotherapy, rehabilitation, injury management, biomechanics, biokinetics, sports performance analysis, nutritional guidance and posture corrections will be put into action. The training will also mark the resumption of the sport after almost a 10-month gap. This training is compartmentalised in three phases-transition, preparatory and competitive one.
Besides, close to 200 crores investment commitment has been made by the Ultimate Kho Kho League promoter and Dabur group Chairman, Amit Burman for the next five years. While a major share of the investment is focused on the growth and development of grassroots and initiation of this scientific programme will help to build excellence which is key for any sport and its growth, globally.
The dates of the Ultimate Kho Kho League has not been tentatively announced. But it will be a 21-day affair, involving six teams.