Ultimate Kho Kho: A brand new league, for an age-old homegrown sport that’s banking on nostalgia

An thought first got here to the thoughts of Tenzing Niyogi in April 2017. Now, on Sunday, simply over 5 years later, yet one more league devoted to an indigenous Indian sport is ready to be launched – Ultimate Kho Kho.

Six franchises will compete from August 14 to September 4 on the Balewadi Sports Complex in Pune within the inaugural season of a league that’s selling the ‘mud to mat’ transition of a sport performed extra popularly at school-level.

Kho kho match the invoice completely for Niyogi.

“The idea came about five years ago when I conceptualised UKK over a laptop,” stated the CEO and League Commissioner to Scroll.in.

“I spoke to the federation and got Amit Burman, the former chief of Dabur, on board as the investor. We wanted to create something that we envisioned becoming India’s third largest league. The idea came out based on the viewership (figures) non-cricketing sports were garnering. The thinking was to look for a team sport, something intrenched in the Bharat market, the heartland of India. Indigenous sports, across countries, have a special place in people’s hearts.

“The idea was that once you say kho kho, you turn to nostalgia. We want people to remember that they’ve played this, and then get that curiosity to come out and see it.”

Steadily, six franchises got here into being for the inaugural season and every set about creating their very own squads. Eventually, 143 gamers have been chosen from a participant draft final month, with the best paid athletes – in Category A – bagging a wage of Rs 5 lakh.

For a sport that solely began to transition from the normal mud or sand courts to an artificial padded mat, making a made-for-television league meant getting in a substantial amount of analysis to seek out out the very best digital camera angles that can be utilized for a superior viewing expertise.

Players and Niyogi throughout a press convention forward of the primary UKK season

“We will have the live spider-cam. We’ve invested in that. Every small nuance has been kept in mind, the graphics, the camera angles,” Niyogi added.

He recalled organising a trial – so to talk – in January 2021 between potential tv manufacturing crews on the Indira Gandhi Indoor Stadium in New Delhi.

“TV production agencies were called in for the first time ever to pitch for an indigenous sport. To showcase what are the camera angles that can be used. We went to that kind of level to take sort of a test of TV production agencies to showcase what they can do in this fast-paced format,” he added.

“Kho kho has action all across, so to capture that we’ve invested a lot of time and money, in creating the format and angles. We’ve looked at it from a scientific perspective.

“And it came to the point where at the draft last month, all teams had digital data for the pool of 240 players from the last two senior national championships. When they were buying players, it was an informed decision.”

The Mumbai Khiladis franchise, although, has already began wanting past the inaugural season.

“We decided not to be limited to the league,” stated co-owner Punit Balan to this publication. He has been concerned as an proprietor in different sports activities leagues just like the Premier Badminton League and Ultimate Table Tennis.

“Once the first season ends, maybe after a two-month gap, we’ll hold a national scouting camp to try and decide our team for the next year. We want to start identifying and building the talent pool.”

And audiences, on social media, have already began to create a fan following for groups.

The Khiladis’ outfit is co-owned by fashionable rapper Badshah, and has already garnered over 24 thousand followers on Instagram – UKK has simply over 14,000 on the time of writing. It’s the ‘star power’ affect a first-time league maybe requires so as to get extra consideration earlier than the wheel begins turning organically. It was an analogous case with the Pro Kabaddi League, when it began in 2014, with Abhishek Bachchan because the proprietor of a franchise.

“That’s the effect of a star like Badshah coming in and contributing. With him, the impact has been a bit more because of the following he has himself. But he’s associated with the sport on a more emotional note, his mother played the sport at the national level,” Balan stated.

“We’ve had our discussions internally that our focus will not be on the owners. No more than 25 percent can be on the owners. Most of it has to be on the players. We’re here to make them the superstars.”

The opening match of the occasion would be the Khiladis taking up the Gujarat Giants – owned by the Adani Group that has a workforce of the identical identify in Pro Kabaddi.

To a sure extent, it’s via the PKL that the UKK attracts some inspiration {that a} league primarily based on an homegrown Indian sport can do properly within the nation.

“Kabaddi did pave the way for indigenous sport,” Niyogi added. “But I think kho kho needed its due recognition.”

That will come on Sunday.

UKK groups house owners

Team Owner
Gujarat Giants Adani Sportsline
Telugu Yoddhas GMR
Chennai Quick Guns KLO Sports
Rajasthan Warriors Capri Global
Odisha Juggernauts Odisha Sports Development and Promotion Company
Mumbai Khiladis Balan Group and Badshah

The league shall be broadcast stay on the Sony Sports Network and on SonyLIV.

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