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Kho Kho

NextGen dominates Ultimate Kho Kho Season 2 players draft

Six franchises spend ₹3.9 crore to select 145 players; 33 players are in the range of 16 to 18 years of age

Ultimate Kho Kho

Ultimate Kho Kho officials and team owners and representatives pose after the Season 2 Players Draft in Bhubaneshwar


The Bridge Desk

Updated: 22 Nov 2023 8:04 AM GMT

The Ultimate Kho Kho (UKK) is all set for Season 2 as the country’s best 145 players, including 33 young talents from the range of 16 to 18 years of age, were hand-picked by six franchises during the Players Draft conducted in Bhubaneshwar.

Adding more energy and speed into the squad, teams made interesting choices with a focus on giving opportunity to promising youngsters as Mumbai Khiladis ensured the services of the 16-year-old Sunil Patra from Odisha, while 17-year-olds M Mugilan of Puducherry and Maharashtra’s Ganesh Borkar was drafted by Chennai Quick Guns and Rajasthan Warriors respectively.

“Ultimate Kho Kho will be driving young Indian fans in Season 2. From a total Player Pool of 272, franchises drafted 145 players. What makes it absolutely special is 33 players in Season 2 will be young 16 to 18 year olds. With an average age of 22.5 years, Season 2 is poised to be faster, stronger and bolder visual spectacle for fans across,” commented Tenzing Niyogi, Ultimate Kho Kho CEO and League Commissioner.

Promoted by Amit Burman in collaboration with the Kho Kho Federation of India (KKFI), Ultimate Kho Kho remains steadfast in its mission to reimagine the growth of indigenous sport with more significant dynamism and engagement.

“The level of entertainment and proficiency of this game has improved in Ultimate Kho Kho. The second season will take it to greater heights and then sky is the limit. Kho-Kho has now been adopted globally because of its speed and entertainment value and a total of 38 countries play Kho-Kho today,” KKFI President Sudhanshu Mittal said.

Interestingly, it was Maharashtra’s Mahesh Shinde, who became the first pick of the draft for the second season in a row. The 28-year-old defender was drafted by Mumbai Khiladis, which also retained Gajanan Shengal and Sreejesh S after their impressive performances in the inaugural edition of the league.

“We have retained Gajanan and Sreejesh. It was a good draft and there are around 8-10 players from Maharashtra who will play for Mumbai Khiladis. We have also picked some of the players who were part of the team in the last season. You need technique as well as young legs in this game because it’s fast. Keeping such combinations in mind, we have made a team of 26 players for the upcoming season and I hope they will perform well,” said Punit Balan, co-owner of Mumbai Khiladis.

Defending champions Odisha Juggernauts also ensured a perfect balance of youth and experience as they selected a strong squad.

“As defending champions, last year we had a very good team so we have retained our major players. Kho-Kho is a very technical game and we gave the responsibility to the coaches, discussed it with them. We had done our homework and picked a very good team. There are many new players and also some upcoming players from Odisha also. We expect that we will defend our title,” commented Lilan Prasad Sahu, OSD, Dept of Sports and Youth Affairs, Govt of Odisha.

While the retained players were offered ₹6 lakh each, franchises picked their remaining players from four categories—A (₹5 lakh), B (₹3 lakh), C (₹1.5 lakh) and D (₹1 lakh). Gujarat Giants and Rajasthan Warriors drafted 25 and 22 players respectively to complete their squads.

“Kho-Kho is a sport that is deeply rooted in the Indian culture, and we at Adani Sportsline are completely focused on ensuring that we help elevate the profile of the sport. Last year, in the inaugural season of the Ultimate Kho Kho, the Gujarat Giants had a good season. However, with this edition we are aiming for the title, and are doing all we can to ensure a powerful performance. Season 2 will surely be bigger and better and we are looking to go all out for our players to emerge as the league champions,” said Sanjay Adesara, CBO, Adani Sportsline which owns Gujarat Giants.

A total of 290 players were registered for the Season 2 Players Draft from 18 states as franchises spent ₹3.9 crore to draft 145 players including 18 retained players. Vijay Hajare, Adhithya Ganpule and Laxman Gawas were among the star players who were handpicked first by Rajasthan Warriors (owned by Capri Global), Telugu Yoddhas and Chennai Quick Guns (owned by KLO Sports), respectively.

Chennai Quick Guns co-owner Srinath said, “I’m quite happy with the squad that we have. My team has worked really hard for the last 6-7 months. They have been scouting for the players, and talking to them. They made a very wise choice of retaining the marquee players. Though we went for a complete revamp of the team, the core team remains the same.”

“At the onset we from Telugu Yoddhas are extremely happy on how the draft was conducted today. We had the opportunity to get some amazing players exactly the way we planned. These players bring a mix of skill and youth just the right blend for us. We trust with our coaching staff and team will get a right winning combination. Now we are all geared up for a thrilling season ahead — full of teamwork, good vibes, and hopefully a podium finish,” said PKSV Sagar, CEO, GMR SPORTS which owns Telugu Yoddhas.

The thrilling action from Season 2 of India’s first-ever franchise-based Kho-Kho league will be broadcasted live on Sony Pictures Networks India (SPNI)’s sports channels as well as livestream on Sony LIV.

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