Ultimate Kho Kho League will pave its own way into the heart of millions of Indians: Sudhanshu Mittal, President of Kho Kho Federation of India
One of India’s oldest outdoor sport, Kho Kho is being brought into the mainstream through Ultimate Kho Kho League. Franchisation of a historic sport like Kho Kho is the latest addition in the list of successful franchises like the Indian Premier League, Indian Super League, and Pro Kabaddi League. They have already been successful in seeding the trust and confidence amongst the corporates to come together and add style and glamour to these sports.
Ultimate Kho Kho League is enroute to become the next big thing in the country. The inaugural edition of the league is featuring six teams-Chennai Quick Guns, Gujarat Giants, Mumbai Khiladis, Odisha Juggernauts, Rajasthan Warriors and Telugu Yoddhas. Sudhanshu Mittal, President of Kho Kho Federation of India along with Amit Burman, Dabur India chairman successfully persuaded corporates like Capri Global (Rajasthan), KLO Sports (Chennai), Adani Group (Gujarat), GMR Group (Telangana), Badshah & Punit Balan (Mumbai) and Odisha (Government of Odisha) to acquire the rights to own and operate these franchises in the league.
The 20-day competition has already commenced and after witnessing the initial matches, it would not be wrong to say that the Ultimate Kho Kho League has announced its arrival with a bang. The Quotes, in a candid conversation with Sudhanshu Mittal, President of Kho Kho Federation of India explored the inspiration behind establishing Ultimate Kho Kho, challenges and future of this ancient sport in the country. Excerpts of the conversation.
Congratulation on successfully organising the inaugural edition of the Ultimate Kho Kho League. Kindly explain how challenging it was to convince the corporates to invest in a non-mainstream game like Kho Kho.
Kho Kho is a very familiar and a feel-good sport. Almost everyone in our country has played the game once in their life. Even I have played it during my childhood days. It is one of those games which require minimal infrastructure and equipment. The game heavily relies on the athleticism of the players. Mr. Amit Burman was familiar of the potential of the sport and agreed to work with me on establishing Ultimate Kho Kho League.
Being a chairman of Dabur, Mr. Burman is well aware of the nerves of rural India. His confidence in the potential of our idea kept me going and we were successful in preparing initial drafts of the league. While, we started getting positive feedback from corporates, a team simultaneously started working on finalising the broadcasting and live streaming deals with possible stakeholders. Once, we had Sony Network on board, we were ensured of the fact that Ultimate Kho Kho League will reach out to the masses and will be a successful contest.
Indian Premier League and Pro Kabaddi League have been a flagbearer in terms of sports franchising in the country. How do you see Ultimate Kho Kho League making a space for itself amidst such a stiff competition in the market?
See, we are not competing with anyone in the market. We are confident that Ultimate Kho Kho League will carve its own way into the heart of millions of Indians. The level of athleticism which Kho Kho delivers and the rate of result in the game makes it a unique proposition.
Also, prevailing market in India is a perfect time to explore and introduce such leagues as the people of India have started realising the potential of their traditional sports due to which Pro Kabaddi League became such an instant hit. The capable team of Kho Kho Federation of India and Dabur have worked relentlessly towards giving it glamor and pace. Ultimate Kho Kho league will emerge as a force to reckon.
India will host the Kho Kho Asia Games in the month of October, followed by World Cup featuring 20 countries. As a president of Kho Kho Federation of India, what are your aspirations for the game?
Kho Kho was formally recognised by the Olympic Council of Asia during the 18th Asian Games held in Jakarta, Indonesia in 2018. I am hoping to see the game feature in the 2022 Asian Games in Hangzhou, China as a ‘demonstration game’ so that the sport can get complete status in the 2026 Asian Games. Right now 36 countries are playing the sport, but I am aiming to rope in more nations so that number would reach up to 100 and we can get the recognition at Commonwealth Games and Olympics.
After first couple of days of Ultimate Kho Kho League season 1, what kind of response you are receiving from the stakeholders?
I am proud to say that we have achieved what we aspired a year ago. Everyone is extremely happy to see the way these contests are panning out. Players are putting everything they can to win valuable points. The way Gujarat Giants pulled off a sensational victory in the first game against Mumbai Khiladis is a testimony of the what’s in the store for the viewers.